Japan disaster could cause price hikes this coming quarter

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit the Japanese archipelago last Friday caused incalculable devastation, with which the Japanese government is still grappling—thousands dead, entire coastal towns turned to rubble and mud, and a badly damaged nuclear plant leaking radiation.

Amid the disaster, bean counters in the industry are beginning to gauge the impact on the global semiconductor market. The folks at IHS iSuppli have put together a report with their estimates. They say the quake’s aftermath may begin to hit our wallets later this month and in early April as prices of components like memory, LCD panels, microcontrollers, and standard logic start to climb.

As the report points out, Japan is currently the world’s largest silicon supplier, accounting for a whopping 60% of the global supply. With the island-nation’s infrastructure badly damaged, shortages are bound to follow once current inventory in the global supply chain runs out. That should happen in about two weeks. IHS iSuppli adds that the "psychological impact" of the disaster has already caused a 10% jump in the price of high-density NAND flash memory.

Having to pay a few bucks more for memory or a new display doesn’t even begin to compare to what the Japanese people are going through right now, of course… and I’ve gotta admit I feel a little dirty writing about this. Still, if you were planning an upgrade later this month, perhaps it’d be wise to pull the trigger before prices start rising—and maybe contribute the money you save to the relief effort.

Comments closed
    • Rageypoo
    • 9 years ago

    This is the biggest load of BS I have ever heard. a natural disaster like this would in no way jack up the prices, it is a way for control, they are using your pity to justify their price hikes because they are greedy

    • Silus
    • 9 years ago

    These “news” are always fascinating to read or listen to…(sarcasm)

    Who cares about prices hikes ? People died and more people need help. That should be the priority. If prices will rise, because of the disaster, then don’t buy anything…

      • Farting Bob
      • 9 years ago

      And millions die every year from treatable diseases, war and famine. Should a tech site stop reporting on tech news because more important issues exist?
      Saying prices will rise because of a disaster doesnt mean we dont care about those directly effected.

        • Silus
        • 9 years ago

        First of all, I didn’t stop anyone from posting news. I stated my opinion on the matter. Second, I didn’t say no one cares about the people, but I did specifically set what should be the priority for these things and “price rises” are not it.

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      Japan is a major supplier for the high-tech and automotive industries all over the world. With the current disruption, and potentially weeks of power grid instability and fuel shortages while the reactor situation and damaged infrastructure are sorted out, an effect is going to be felt in the global economy for several months.

      Somebody needs to be thinking intelligently about the implications of that and planning the logistics. It doesn’t have to be you, if that’s not your thing, but it does need to be somebody.

        • Silus
        • 9 years ago

        And my point was quite simple: So what ? A natural disaster that no one controls, causes havoc in a country and thousands die, plus the possibility of a nuclear crisis due to the disaster.
        If the “global economy” (which I’ll assume you know is a virtual thing, not palpable or real, and is controlled by the men and women that created it in the first place) has to suffer, so be it. The problems in this world would be greatly minimized, if life would be more valuable than “virtual things” and/or money.

        The fact that you mention “thinking intelligently” in the same context as “global economy” and “natural disaster that caused thousands of deaths”, is just another sign of how rotten everything got.

        And it’s even more “curious” in a very dark way, that someone needs to be “thinking intelligently”, only because Japan influences the “global economy”. Not because of the tragedy itself. Remember Haiti a while back ? That was quickly forgotten. Why ? Because they don’t influence the “global economy” in any way. Clearly the priorities are set here. And it’s not about life, not in Haiti or in Japan. It’s about the need to balance the “global economy”, because Japan is not going to produce more materials due to the horrible disaster. Oh and there were deaths and tragedy too…

          • ludi
          • 9 years ago

          Step one for successful anger management: Learn when to say “I’m angry about such and such a situation,” and then cut yourself off at that.

            • Silus
            • 9 years ago

            Anger management ? So putting the tragedy of people above “global economy” means I need anger management ?…You really need to get your priorities straight…
            But I guess I’m losing my time. No point in arguing this with someone that views everything with dollar signs!

            • ludi
            • 9 years ago

            Yes, anger management. You’re spouting off an interperation of events that borders on conspiracy theory, you’re attacking other people, you’re attacking TR by implication for posting tech-relevant news, and then you’re trying to defend this behavior on the grounds that you’re “sensitive”.

            Which is not an appropriate way to cope. Life goes on for others because it must. The people who are hurting in Japan are [i<]not helped in the slightest[/i<] by your outrage, and [i<]are not harmed in the slightest[/i<] if people halfway across the world discuss the economic fallout from this tragedy.

          • Meadows
          • 9 years ago

          Global economy is “virtual”? Not real, and nobody will feel Japan’s crap?
          I guess you must like driving your virtual car then and using virtual RAM at home.

          And let’s never forget all that erratic hentai.

            • Silus
            • 9 years ago

            My car and RAM, exist as they already are. They’re not going anywhere because Japan, due to a natural disaster, will stop providing components. And this should be a perfectly reasonable justification anyway, but I guess not…And if someone can’t wait a bit to buy RAM then, again, they have their priorities all wrong.
            Whatever economical consequences arise from the tragedy, it’s far more easy to control the “global economy” (because it’s in the hands of men and women) than a 8.9 magnitude earthquake that absolutely no one controls…

            • UberGerbil
            • 9 years ago

            That’s nice for you. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, real people have real jobs manufacturing things that contain components supplied from Japan. They could just ignore all this, as you suggest, until one day they show up for work and discover they don’t have a job and won’t get paid because the assembly line is shut down. Or the people who manage their supply chain could look for alternative supplies — and so will all the tens of thousands of other people in charge of other supply chains, and that will drive up prices (leading to changing product mixes, redesigning products, or whatever). These are the men and women in whose hands rests the global economy, along with millions of others in every country in the world, and you can’t “control” them any more than you can control an earthquake or the weather. But we can anticipate what they will do, and plan accordingly, and thus keep ourselves employed and productive… which not only provides for our families, but gives us the surplus of capital and labor that will enable us to help Japan (or do you think those aid packages and aircraft carriers and helicopters bought and run themselves?).

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    Well as I predicted a few days ago on here (despite everyone else on here telling me I was a complete loony), Japan is screwed. Containment vessels on reactors 2 & 3 are now being reported as damaged. TOTALLY SCREWED!

      • blastdoor
      • 9 years ago

      I hope you’re wrong. But either way, the nuclear power industry might be screwed. The thing that many people enthralled with nuclear power fail to fully appreciate is that the safery of a nuclear power plant depends not just on technological systems but also on human systems (corporations and governments). Those human systems are needed to make sure that the best technologies are being used and to make sure that waste is being dealt with as safely and efficiently as possible. This plant in japan is 40 years old and stores spent rods in ponds on site. These is clearly not best practices.

      Nuclear power advocates will point out that better technologies exist for new plants constructed today. But it’s still the case that the construction, maintenance, and waste management depends on human systems, not techncal systems. And that means corporations and governments. Neither of those institutions have been very impressive over the last few decades, at least not to the degree needed for something as high stakes as nuclear power.

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        What is your alternative? And do you understand trade-offs? People want bulk power and will move mountains to get it, including burning fossil fuels on a large scale, if that’s what it takes. Typical coal fired plants emit far more harmful elements into the environment, including radioactive isotopes and mercury that were trapped in trace amounts in the coal, and they do it continuously. They also produce large volumes of flyash, which is a lung carcinogen if not handled conscientiously. Way more people are killed in coal mining accidents and incidents than are killed in uranium mining accidents and incidents because of the volume of earth that needs to be moved to get at the proportionate amount of fuel.

        Nuclear emits effectively nothing under normal operation and so far there have been only three critical accident scenarios in the history of nuclear power — Chernobyl, which was an utter disaster because it used a horrific reactor design, including a graphite control rod system that fueled most of the fire and produced most of the radioactive fallout; Three Mile Island, which was fully contained; and now Fukushima, which is an ugly bit of business but has not [i<]yet[/i<] turned into a radiological disaster after several days of being almost out of control. And in any case, the design survived the earthquake. It was the tsunami overwhelming of the backup generators that wasn't correctly planned for, and you can bet that will be the first thing on the checklist for other stations. I think you're right about one thing: This will be a significant setback for nuclear energy. Unfortunately, it will not be on account of a real examination of the risks and trade-offs, but because of fear-mongering hype and the usual media skew.

          • blastdoor
          • 9 years ago

          More wind, more solar, and much,much higher prices for electricity.

          Of course, that’s probably not politically feasible, even after this incident. So instead people will probably burn more coal for as long as they can, which I agree is pretty bad.

          But eventually people will be forced to choose between relatively inexpensive but unsafe nuclear power versus more expensive but much safer wind and solar.

          If we manage to solve the human side of the equation then I would be happy to support nuclear. From a technical standpoint it has the potential to be the best solution. I’m just skeptical that we can solve the human problem in my lifetime.

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            What human problem? Most nuclear facilities were already 5 times more secure 30 years ago, than coal plants are today.

            • blastdoor
            • 9 years ago

            “what human problem?”

            You just illustrated it — nicely done

            Edit — here’s another example:

            [url<]http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/world/asia/17tokyo.html?pagewanted=2&hp[/url<] Read the paragraph that begins: "Powerful bureaucrats retire to better paid jobs..."

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Just because the Japanese do everything (and I mean *everything*) backwards doesn’t say anything about nuclear power and/or security in general.

            • blastdoor
            • 9 years ago

            In the united states we had three mile island and we continue to operate old plants like inidian point. Also, the issue I highlighted in japan exists here as well — corrupt relationships between regulators and industry. We had the gulf oil spill, which should not have happened if the humans were doing their jobs right. The recent financial meltdown was the result of corrupt humans systematically undermining a regulatory system that had been built up over time to prevent such things, and had prevented such things for over a generation. But sure enough, greed found a way.

            Back on nuclear power — why do we still store high level radioactive waste at nuclear power plants in the us? Because we can’t agree on a permanent storage facility OR better reactor technologies that would reuse the old fuel. More failures of human systems.

            Only the French seem to have figured out how to design human systems that allow them to have things like great public transportation, health care, and nuclear power. Although the French have plenty of other issues that makes me think that their success with nuclear power might be a fluke. Also, if you looked at us in 1980, you would have thought that we could never have a financial meltdown again, thanks to forty years of good government. But you would have been wrong.my point being that corruption might still get the French.

            Until our human systems catch up with our technological systems, I will think that nuclear power is to dangerous.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      This is nothing close to TOTALLY screwed. You don’t want to see what that would look like.

      (In fact, even if all three melt down it’s unlikely to be as “screwed” as Chernobyl, where a runaway reactor without a containment vessel blew upwards rather than melting down)

    • oldDummy
    • 9 years ago

    hmm…could use a plasma TV.

    That Sony HD tube I have will last longer than me.

    Yup, might pull the trigger.

    • hans
    • 9 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the proceeds from the price hike made it into the hands of the Japanese people?

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 9 years ago

      My thoughts exactly.

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 9 years ago

      Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true everywhere? But no, the rich get richer, while getting more and more tax breaks.

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        Uhm, wow.

        The whole point of the price signal is that a rise in price should indicate scarcity, thereby causing buyers to carefully consider whether they should still allocate resources toward the purchase, defer the purchase, or purchase a substitute; and, where possible, bring competitors into the market.

        In this case, scarcity is exactly the cause. Japanese plants will have to shut down production, fewer units of ‘x’ will be available for sale, fewer units of ‘y’ that use ‘x’ in their manufacture will be sold at the higher price, and meanwhile an engineer or assembly line worker in the ‘y’ factory would still like to draw his or her wages today, regardless of whether s/he was responsible for 10,000 units of production, or merely 7,000 units because 3,000 units simply could not be manufactured at any price.

        • jasonalwaysready
        • 9 years ago

        the poor are getting richer, too. and the ‘rich’ are the only ones that pay any taxes.

      • potatochobit
      • 9 years ago

      It may sound like a good idea but Japan and America are already in Recession trouble
      If the yen keeps climbing their market will crash and it will be a terrible terrible crash
      Japan doesnt need anymore american dollars, they need to diversify their portfolio

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Wouldn’t it be nice if those proceeds were available for anything but to pay increased costs on suddenly-scarcer components?

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      No.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        You’re still all sorts of evil

          • Meadows
          • 9 years ago

          I can’t say I like Japan.

            • bcronce
            • 9 years ago

            Japanese are very respectable people. They have a sense of pride that the USA has long forgotten.

            • dpaus
            • 9 years ago

            The Japanese sense of ‘honour’ can seem very schizophrenic to Westerners. On the one hand, consider that there have been no cases of looting reported in the aftermath of the quake. None. Then remember New Orelans, Loma Linda, etc.

            On the other hand, try reading a Japanese history book about World War II.

            • paulWTAMU
            • 9 years ago

            Vivisection of POWs. That is what I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

            • ludi
            • 9 years ago

            Don’t ever read [i<]The Rape of Nanking[/i<], then. That will cause your chest hair to wilt and fall away, although it really wasn't any different than what the secondary (and less-disciplined) waves of Russian troops did to the East Germans at the final invasion of Germany. It was an ugly war no matter which way you approach it. Thankfully, that was now more than sixty years ago and hasn't yet been repeated on that scale.

            • paulWTAMU
            • 9 years ago

            I have read it. And yeah, horrifying.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    Now is a good time to speculate on memory… buy some modules now and sell them for 2x the price later 🙂

    After seeing what happened with DDR2, you should be doing this anyways… *wink*

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 9 years ago

      That’s called hoarding and we shoot hoarders in these here parts. *nudge…nudge*

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Actually, it’s called arbitrage. And the people who try it with long-term deflationary goods like electronic components tend to lose their investment sooner or later.

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 9 years ago

          And in this case it was sooner rather than later.

          • PixelArmy
          • 9 years ago

          For it to be deemed arbitrage, it has to happen near simultaneously…

            • UberGerbil
            • 9 years ago

            Temporal arbitrage is just as real as any other kind.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Just scored some memory on Newegg’s “15% off for 72 hours” deal

        • hapyman
        • 9 years ago

        Which ones did you get?

        I picked up a 2 x 4GB g.skill ripjaw 1600 set for only $75. I couldn’t pass it up.

        But really I hope for the best for Japan and those affected.

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          Two sets of G.Skill ECO 2x4GB 1333 CL7. Crazy expensive, but 15% off helped, and low power is a lifestyle choice

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Sometimes I get surprised about the minuses.

        Actually not surprised, just confused

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          MOAR PLIIZ!!

    • Amien
    • 9 years ago

    The devastation is absolutely terrible. Official death toll is nowhere near the actual figure. This news just makes it worse. I hope it all ends soon. 🙁

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 9 years ago

    This answers [i<]ericfulmer[/i<]'s question in the forums. [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=75830[/url<]

      • ericfulmer
      • 9 years ago

      Oh no, not again…

        • SecretMaster
        • 9 years ago

        How we [i<]finally[/i<] got front page modding... 😛

    • potatochobit
    • 9 years ago

    remember, some institutions will match your donations like [url<]http://www.crunchyroll.com[/url<] I need me some nice DDR3 bulldozer memory, I saw some patriot gamer memory but I don't know what that means...

      • Amien
      • 9 years ago

      Just differently branded memory mostly. Likely has higher than average clock speeds or tighter timings.

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