MHI Solutions

Economic Market Update

ECONOMIC MARKET ANALYSIS

U.S. and Global Outlook Remain Positive for Material Handling and the Overall Economy

By Jason Schenker, CMT, CFP, ERP, CVA, Prestige Economics, LLC

The outlook for material handling remains positive, as long as the outlook for the U.S. economy remains positive. In a recent analysis, we found that nominal U.S. GDP is over 90 percent correlated with material handling. This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, if material handling is the industry that makes the supply chain work, and the macroeconomy is growing, then the demand on the supply chain—and the demand for material handling equipment and technology—should rise.

Optimism about U.S. growth improved at the end of 2016 and through the first half of 2017 on the hope of stimulative fiscal policies, including U.S. corporate tax cuts and additional government spending on infrastructure. This proved supportive of business investment, and this has been supportive for material handling in the United States.

Beyond the United States, the outlook for the global economy has also improved. International Monetary Fund (IMF) growth forecasts reflect expectations of accelerating global GDP growth in 2017 and 2018, compared to the relatively tepid growth rate of only 3.1 percent in 2016.  While 3.1 percent is normally considered a strong GDP growth rate, it is a tepid rate for global growth, because global population growth is generally considered sufficient to achieve 3 percent year over year annual global GDP growth. In other words, the 2016 global growth rate of 3.1 percent barely exceeded the contributions from global population growth.

The outlook is more positive for the balance of 2017 and 2018. Against this backdrop of upside growth potential, we see upside potential for overall material handling new orders for the balance of 2017 as well, with more significant upside potential for material handling new orders in 2018.

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Emerging technologies such as IIoT, robotics and artificial intelligence provide exciting opportunities for supply chains. They also mean an exponential growth in the amount of data these supply chains generate. When properly utilized, this data can provide crucial information to improve efficiency, reduce costs, enhance transparency and customer service. But it comes with risk. The more digitized a supply chain becomes, the more it is at risk of cyberattack. Hackers are constantly finding new ways create data breaches they can exploit. The reality that most supply chains require third-party suppliers down the chain only heightens this threat. No matter the scale of your supply chain, it is essential to have solid cybersecurity processes in place to manage and mitigate the growing risk of cyberattack. That’s what this issue of MHI Solutions is all about, from cybersecurity threats in an IIoT world to dark data to the human factor in cybersecurity to blockchain as a potential solution.

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