Managing a Shortage


In the real world, equilibrium prices are always changing. A flood in Brazil may cause the price of coffee to rise; good farming weather in the Midwest will lead to a fall in the price of wheat; advancing technology steadily lowers the price of computers. If enough people are drastically affected by the price change the government may decide to do something about it—whether wisely or unwisely. Rising apartment rents will lead to pressure for rent control, falling wheat prices will lead to pressure for agricultural price supports, and so forth.

When the government controls the price of a good below the market-clearing level, there will be a “shortage.” A shortage is not the same as scarcity. Scarcity simply means that not all desires can be satisfied, and so scarcity is always present. Diamonds are scarce, but there is no shortage—anyone who can pay the price of a diamond can buy one. A shortage exists when goods are not just expensive but unavailable to some people—except perhaps by unlawful means. In a city with rent controls, newcomers may be unable to rent an apartment at all, regardless of their willingness to pay. Thus, faced with a supply shift or demand shift dictating a higher equilibrium price, consumers are bound to lose out one way or the other—either from the higher price if the market adjustment proceeds unimpeded, or from the “shortages” that follow when government interventions keep the price low.

Using the concepts of short-run and long-run supply, let us trace out the consequences of coping with upward pressures on price by imposing a “ceiling.” There are some less visible consequences of price ceiling. Unable to raise price openly, firms may use subtler strategies. They may eliminate discounts or seasonal sales, reduce quality or variety or convenience of their offerings, or concentrate production in product lines that happen to have received a better break from the price-control authorities. Supplies may be sold abroad, leaving even less available for domestic consumers. And of course black markets may arise, providing a wider scope for people specializing in illegal activity. In extreme cases, there may be a breakdown of legitimate trade. In this connection, we can learn much from a previous great inflationary episode associate with World War 11 and its aftermath.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Supplier Partnership


An organization spends a substantial portion of every sales on the purchase of raw materials, components, and services. Therefore, supplier quality can substantially affect the overall cost of a product or service. One of the keys to obtaining high-quality products and services is for the customer to work with suppliers in a partnering atmosphere to achieve the same quality level as attained within the organization.

Customers and suppliers have the same goal—to satisfy the end user. The better the supplier’s quality, the better the supplier’s long-term position, because the customer will have better quality. Because both the customer and the supplier have limited resources, they must work together as partners to maximize their return on investment.

There have been a number of forces that have changed supplier reltions. Prior to the 1980s, procurement divisions were typically based on price, thereby awarding contracts to the lowest bidder. As a result, quality and timely delivery were sacrificed. It is stopped because price has no basis without quality. In addition, single suppliers for each item help develop a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust. These actions will lead to improved products and services.

Another factor changing supplier relations was the introduction of the just-in-time (JIT) concept. It calls for raw materials and components to reach the production operation in small quantities when they are needed and not before. The benefit of JIT is that inventory-related costs are kept to a minimum. Procurement lots are small and delivery is frequent. As a result, the supplier will have many more process setups, thus becoming a JIT organization itself. The supplier must drastically reduce setup time or its costs will increase. Because there is little or no inventory, the quality of incoming materials must be very good or the production line will be shut down. To be successful, JIT requires exceptional quality and reduced setup times.

The practice of continuous process improvement has also caused many suppliers to develop partnerships with their customers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight