The narrative touted in the public domain is that COVID-19 sparked a dramatic underestimate in capacity by sawmills early in the pandemic as the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to zero, sparking a housing boom. The influx of demand outpaced supply and has caused lumber prices to jump 340% from a year ago, according to Random Lengths.
In terms of output, the lumber industry is controlled by just a handful of firms, including Weyerhaeuser Co., Georgia-Pacific LLC, West Fraser Timber Co., Ltd., among others, which makes it easier for capacity to be controlled.
Maybe there’s more to the lumber story that we’re not being told and should be investigated more in-depth by journalists.
YouTube account “Ken’s Karpentry” recently published a video of “huge quantities” of lumber sitting and not in lumberyards. The exact location of the video is not mentioned but is thought to be near Lyndonville, Vermont.
The narrator of the video, perhaps it’s Ken, but we’re not sure, explains that a train depot has been transformed into a makeshift lumber yard. He said train loads of lumber coming out of Canada are offloaded here and then transported by tractor-trailer to lumberyards across the country.
He said, “I am astounded by how much lumber is here, and I am wondering why there is such a problem at lumber yards.” He added the facility stretches 3/8 of a mile.
Could the lumber industry, controlled just by a few players, be pulling the playbook straight out of the diamond industry to limit supply to drive up prices? ✪