What to know about the Taiwan chip situation

The world put all its chips in one basket — now it’s trying to decentralize.

Replace eggs with semiconductors, and the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” describes an enormous issue facing the global economy.

At the middle of it is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, a $300B+ company that accounts for 92% of global advanced semiconductor production capacity, building chips for much of the world’s tech across iPhones, military equipment, cars — you name it.

As the name suggests, TSMC is in Taiwan

That presents a dicey geopolitical conundrum:

  • China is threatening military action to gain control over Taiwan.
  • Taiwan views its chip supremacy as a “silicon shield” — if China were to attack Taiwan, the US would have to protect it.
  • The US is now hedging its bets, committing to protect Taiwan while also pushing both TSMC and US chip companies to start manufacturing stateside.

What’s being done?

In July, Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, putting ~$53B toward US manufacturing.

The US also recently blocked the sale of advanced semiconductors and equipment to Chinese firms, and restricted US companies and citizens from aiding Chinese chip development.

As for companies…

  • Intel is investing $20B+ on two factories in Ohio, Micron said it’ll spend $100B on one in New York, and Samsung is dropping $17B on a factory in Texas.
  • Even TSMC was swayed by the Trump administration to build a $12B fab in Arizona.

These moves are a start, but the estimated total investment required for major global regions to completely reshore production is pegged at ~$1T each, plus $45B-$125B a year thereafter. In other words, we’ve got a ways to go.

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