Will home builders fiddle while critical resources burn?
Try to imagine: The U.S. auto industry, quickly emerging from a slump rivaling the one experienced by its home-building brethren, is set to grow by another million units in 2014, except for one problem—a worldwide steel shortage. Steel, next to healthcare, is the No. 1 cost component in auto-making. Aluminum and plastic have their roles, but steel rules for frames, body panels, and engine blocks. So how do the automakers respond to this shortage? Half complain bitterly about the inevitable price hikes while the other half ignores the problem, hoping somehow it will go away.