Port gridlocks, the stock wealth gap and new names for Facebook

Planet Business: Have a break, have an upgrade

Image of the week: Up the yard

Global shipping logistics is one of those complex, gargantuan fields of human endeavour that at several points in history must have involved the most ingenious minds – and yet we only notice it when it goes wrong. Right now, things are going very wrong, with ports from Shenzhen to Rotterdam and Los Angeles all massively congested. A recent typhoon in Asia means a growing queue of container ships there are waiting to get into ports, while Danish shipping giant Maersk was last week forced to divert its "empties" away from the bottlenecked British container port of Felixstowe. Maersk said the UK's lack of truck drivers was creating terminal congestion and increased "dwell times" in the container yard – in other words, a great deal of that lovely Christmas stock ordered by retailers is just sitting there without a driver. Maersk temporarily diverted some vessels to alternative ports, then said it would make "short-term structural changes" to its network. We might need elves and reindeer to sort out this gridlock yet.

In numbers: Wealth gap

Share of US stocks owned by the wealthiest 10 per cent of US households – a record high to ponder if you're having trouble sleeping at night.

$6.5 trillion
The top 1 per cent gained this much in equity and fund wealth during the pandemic and now control 32 per cent of US wealth, according to data from the Federal Reserve.

$1.2 trillion
The bottom 90 per cent (a term that admittedly makes little sense) gained this much over the same period and it should, to be fair, just about cover the cost of the forthcoming revolution.


Getting to know: Mark Schneider

Before the business world lurched in unseemly fashion from a pandemic into a supply-chain crisis, Nestlé chief executive Mark Schneider had been busy whipping the Swiss food giant into shape, selling off the chunks of the company he didn't like, signing a deal with Starbucks to add its brand to its Nespresso and Nescafé portfolio and launching a pink KitKat in Japan, among other things. The US-German citizen, who came to Nestlé in 2016 from German healthcare group Fresenius, this week had the pleasure of upgrading the company's financial outlook, after the Starbucks deal proved lucrative and sales of pet food enjoyed a pandemic surge. Schneider prompted a minor chocolate kerfuffle earlier this month after the BBC asked him if he could guarantee that there would be Quality Street in shops this Christmas, and he inconclusively replied "we are working hard". In a later statement, Nestlé assured there would be plenty of Quality Street to go round.

The list: New names for Facebook

Facebook was famously born not as Facebook but as "The Facebook", which wouldn't have worked at all, obviously – if founder Mark Zuckerberg had stuck with it, we might never have heard of him. Now the king of Facebook is said to be on the cusp of announcing a new corporate name, a bit like how Google is now just one entity within its parent company, Alphabet. So what are the possibilities?

1 Horizon. The top tip of tech site The Verge, which broke the rebranding story earlier this week. Indeed, the last remaining offline spaces will soon be disappearing over the horizon.

2 Connect. A favourite word of Facebook's and the name of the augmented/virtual reality conference, which Zuckerberg will address next week. Sounds innocuous, almost dull, which does the trick in corporate circles.

3 Metabook. Zuckerberg wants his legacy to be the building of a virtual reality metaverse and not, say, the providing of a platform to incite genocides and insurrections.

4 Instaverse. Facebook's $1 billion purchase of Instagram in 2012 remains a top-league acquisition. Why not amplify the fact?

5 Together. Not just an anodyne choice, but an active rebuke to anyone who posits that Facebook profits from polarisation and division.