The current problems facing the country have been dubbed the “EFFing crisis”. That’s not a way to politely tone down the frustration facing us all. In this case, EFFing refers to energy, fuel, food. We could add more. Shelves, ports, staff. And more.

The latest problem is container ships being turned away from British ports. This is a continuation of the global freight crisis, where containers and ships found themselves in the wrong places due to Covid restrictions. This has led to a 10-fold increase in shipping charges. The lack of lorry drivers has compounded this problem, with containers piling up in ports like Tilbury, Felixstowe and the London Gateway.

The driver problems mean we don’t have enough lorries on the road to deliver fuel (that led recently to queues at petrol stations, but mercifully fewer in our part of the country than others), and in some cases other essentials. These problems are obvious, but less obvious are the problems in the agricultural sector, needing large numbers of migrant workers to pick fruit and salad crops, and help with other seasonal demands such as turkeys at Christmas. Meanwhile, the lack of qualified butchers has resulted in the tragic pork waste, with fattened pigs going to landfill rather than supermarkets.

These are the highlights on the news, but for many businesses, it is impossible to find staff. Indeed, we now have the highest vacancy rates for over two decades. Yet we face factories closing due to energy price rises

It is not obvious to see what is driving these problems. There are a lot of tectonic plates shifting. On the one hand, energy prices are going up because of a surge in global demand, especially from China. Meanwhile, Covid has created very peculiar economic patterns and we are experiencing a strong global recovery and consequent demand. And here in the UK, we have our own home grown issues of Brexit, with a profound change in how we source labour and flex seasonal demand. All of these are factors that affect our economy and no single issue can be held to account. But we are at a risky place. A lack of labour leads to wage inflation. Whilst good news for, say, lorry drivers, it is bad for consumers, driving up prices. This leads to the spectre of rising interest rates, not seen for well over a decade.

We certainly live in interesting times.