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The Editors

Short of Baby Formula? Blame Bad Policy and Red Tape

Decades of misguided protectionism have left the industry needlessly vulnerable.



Photographer: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images

To soaring prices, plummeting stocks and disrupted supply chains, add another worry for American consumers: an alarming shortage of baby formula. Beyond the current panic, the crisis is an object lesson in how decades of protectionism can culminate in disaster.

Reports of empty shelves, rationed supplies, online scams and anxious parents have proliferated in recent weeks. An analysis by Datasembly Inc. found that the out-of-stock rate for baby formula has surged to 43% nationwide this month, up from 11% in November. In some cities, the rate exceeds 50%. Experts warn it could be months before supplies are back to normal.