A supply chain crisis triggered by the global pandemic deprived makers of PCs and smartphones to cars of computer chips needed to make their products. All that suddenly changed over three weeks from late May to June, as high inflation, China’s latest COVID lockdown, and the war in Ukraine dampened consumer spending, especially on PCs and smartphones. Chip shortages turned into a glut in some sectors, taking Wall Street by surprise. By late June, memory chip firm Micron Technology Inc said it would reduce production. The market reversal caught Micron off guard, admitted Chief Business Officer Sumit Sadana. As US chip earnings reporting season kicks off later this month, TechInsights’ chip economist Dan Hutcheson warned of more bad news following Micron’s grim forecast. “Micron kind of plowed the ground, with their honesty,” he said. Worries about an industry downturn have slammed chip stocks, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor index tumbling 35pc so far in 2022, far more than the S&P 500’s 19pc loss. Hoarding is making it worse. Like nervous shoppers raiding supermarket aisles for toilet paper ahead of a COVID-19 lockdown, manufacturers stockpiled computer chips during the pandemic. Before that, “just in time” manufacturing was the norm for fiscally conservative companies, which ordered parts as close to production time as possible to avoid excess inventory, reduce warehouse capacity and cut upfront spending. During the pandemic that shifted to what some jokingly call a “just in case” practice of stockpiling chips. “Hoarding is a sign they think it’s essential until one day they look at it and say, ‘Why do I have all this inventory?'” said Hutcheson, who has been forecasting chip supply and demand for over 40 years. “It’s kind of like toilet paper.” The big chip U-turn has hit unevenly across business sectors, experts said. Big suppliers of chips to consumer electronics makers, especially low-end smartphones, will be hit hardest by the downturn, said Tristan Gerra, Baird’s senior analyst for semiconductors. Nvidia Corp, the design giant whose graphic chips are used for gaming and mining cryptocurrency, could see “another shoe drop” as prices continue to fall, exacerbated by the recent cryptocurrency market crash, Gerra said.