Afternoon Coffee: Supply chain disruptions converge on global economy; UK government exploring ‘Britcoin’ digital currency; US reaches coronavirus vaccination milestone

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Supply chain disruptions have converged in three pillars of the global economy — shipping, computer chips and plastics — threatening economic recovery into the summer months, according to CNBC.

Port backups have been described as the worst ever while delivery times are recording the longest times in 20 years of data collection. The system will eventually adjust to these disruptions, but it’s going to take time and require new investment in ports and capacity, the article said.

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The recovering world economy depends on synchronized, smooth-running supply chains, but it has been slammed by disruptions hitting at the same time. Companies can re-examine sourcing strategies, but this will add new complexities.

“I’ve never before seen a situation where every sector of the [transportation] industry is slammed,” one trucking executive told CNBC.

Britain explores digital currency options for ‘Britcoin’

British authorities indicated on Monday that they’re exploring options to create a new digital currency that Treasury Chief Rishi Sunak called “Britcoin,” according to the Associated Press.

The Bank of England and the Treasury said they will work together to explore the benefits of a central bank currency, especially during a time when cash payments are generally on the decline. The new currency would be a new form of digital money for use by individuals and businesses that would exist along with cash and bank deposits rather than replace them, the article said.

Digital currencies are being explored and implemented in several other countries as well. They work in similar fashion to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but they are issued by state authorities.

“Our vision is for a more open, greener and more technologically advanced financial services sector,” Sunak said at a fintech conference. “And if we can capture the extraordinary potential of technology, we’ll cement the UK’s position as the world’s preeminent financial center.”

Half of Americans have one coronavirus vaccine as eligibility expands

The United States on Monday reached a new milestone in its COVID-19 vaccination effort after it was announced half of Americans had received at least one dose of the vaccine and the Biden administration expanded eligibility to all American adults age 16 and older, according to USA Today.

Experts talked with USA Today to discuss what has gone right and wrong in the vaccination effort. Experts agree that the US has rolled out the vaccines at a much faster pace than expected. Also, distribution of the vaccines has been one of the most impressive components of this effort.

Under the Biden administration, distribution of the vaccines has been stepped up substantially, along with production. Now, more than 3 million Americans (about 1% of the total population) get vaccinated every day, the article said.

"I am astonished, but not surprised, by the global scientific brilliance and collaborative spirit that has produced a profusion of useful vaccines," Arti Rai, law professor and health law expert at Duke University Law School, told USA Today. "Most surprising to me has been the ability of the US public health care system, challenged as it is in so many ways, to do a reasonable job on the delivery end."

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