Updated Feb 19, 2022 - Economy & Business

America's sputtering auto supply chain

Data: FactSet; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

To get inflation under control, auto assembly lines have to run full-throttle. And despite some positive data points, things still seem to be sputtering.

Driving the news: On the plus side, inventories of cars and parts surged 6.9% in December — the biggest jump on record — following a couple of months of revving car production, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Vehicle prices — both new and used — are big drivers of inflation, thanks to a computer chip shortage that crimped car production over the last year.

Yes, but: Even with the recent rise in inventories, there are signs that the auto supply chain is still under strain.

What they're saying: "The recent surge in inventory accumulation probably has not been sustained," wrote Ian Shepherdson, of Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a client note yesterday.

The bottom line: It's good that car inventories rose late last year, but don't expect prices to ease until there's a far more reliable supply.

Editor's note: This story originally published on Feb. 17.

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