Biden enlists Walmart, FedEx to fix bottlenecks

BIDEN: "This is a big first step in speeding up the movement of materials and goods through our supply chain."

President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that new commitments from clogged ports on the West Coast, as well as retailers and delivery companies, to keep their operations going 24/7 will help ease major shipping bottlenecks that have been weighing on the U.S. economy and threatening to disrupt the holiday season.

BIDEN: "Today, Walmart, our nation's largest retailer, is committing to go all in on moving its products 24/7 from the ports to their stores nationwide... Additionally, FedEx and UPS, two of our nation's biggest freight movers, are committing today to significantly increase the amount of goods they are moving at night... By increasing the number of late-night hours of operation and opening up for less crowded hours so goods can move faster, today's announcement has the potential to be a game-changer."

The stop-and-start nature of an ongoing health crisis has snarled global supply chains resulting in a backlog of products that includes half a million containers on cargo ships waiting to be offloaded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

White House officials have been warning that Americans may face higher prices and some empty shelves over the holiday season.

Earlier on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she couldn't promise that even with the extended hours of operations there would be no holiday shopping disruptions.

PSAKI: "We cannot guarantee. What we can do is use every lever at the federal government level to reduce delays."

Mizuho Securities' U.S. chief economist Steven Ricchiuto says there is only so much the White House can do.

RICCHIUTO: "Well, first of all, FedEx isn't really the problem. Wal-Mart isn't really the problem. The problem is at the ports, the problem is overseas, where the goods are being bottlenecked... It's a huge logistic nightmare and a lot of it is overseas. And therefore, you know what the president's doing isn't going to really hurt. But at the end of the day, it doesn't solve the problem."

Biden said Wednesday's moves were only a first step and promoted his ambitious infrastructure plan, which he said would invest heavily in the country's ports and making more products at home.

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