MHI Solutions

Economic Market Update

ECONOMIC MARKET ANALYSIS: Growth Continues, Despite a Risky First Half of 2018

* By Jason Schenker *

The first half of the 2018 included a number of policy surprises that engendered significant financial market volatility. U.S. trade policy, in particular, became a flashpoint of uncertainty, as tariffs were lobbed back and forth between the U.S. and China. The aftermath of that uncertainty is likely to cast a shadow over growth prospects late this year and in 2019.

These risks had the unintended consequence of forcing business leaders and market mavens to incorporate downside risks to growth (and upside risks to commodity prices) from tariffs and trade for the first time in decades.

Fortunately, the near-term outlook for the U.S. economy, global economy, and material handling remained generally positive. Leading economic activity data, low interest rates, favorable tax policies in the U.S., a falling greenback, and solid equity markets were all positive dynamics in place at the start of 2018. A mix of these factors have continued to provide reasons to be somewhat optimistic about growth for the year overall, although interest rates, equity markets, and leading economic data have experienced surprising swings. Those swings, and scars from uncertainty of fiscal, monetary, and trade policies, could dampen the outlook.

Simply put, for the second half of the year, there are rising risks—with even bigger risks to growth to material handling and supply chain industries in 2019.

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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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