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NABE: Economic Activity Eased Somewhat Over the Past 3 Months

The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) reported decelerated growth in its latest Business Conditions Survey. The net percentage of respondents saying that their profit margins had increased over the past three months dropped from 24 percent in January to 10 percent in April, reflecting both weaker demand and higher costs. On the positive side, sales continue to expand, just at a slightly eased pace. This is especially true in the goods-producing sectors, which had half of those taking the survey say that their sales were higher in the quarter. Yet, 56 percent of respondents noted that slower growth in China had negatively impacted their businesses, with two –thirds saying that a stronger U.S. dollar had made a negative “material impact” on them. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – April 20, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:

Manufacturing production increased 0.1 percent in March. This followed three months of weaker data, including declines in both January and February. There have been some significant headwinds hitting the manufacturing sector over the past few months, including a strong U.S. dollar, weakened economic markets abroad, lower crude oil prices, the West Coast ports slowdown and weather. These challenges have slowed activity in the sector since November. The latest Beige Book discussed these headwinds. The year-over-year pace of manufacturing production in March was 2.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in November. Meanwhile, total industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, fell 0.6 percent in March, declining for the third time in the past four months. As such, the data suggest manufacturers have started the new year on a very soft note despite optimism for better demand and output moving forward. (continue reading…)

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Introduced

With today’s introduction of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have demonstrated strong bipartisan, bicameral leadership on an issue that is critical to American leadership globally and the ability of manufacturers and their workers in the United States to compete more successfully for the approximately $12 trillion in manufactured goods traded internationally.

TPA is a longstanding and proven procedural partnership between Congress and the Executive Branch that facilitates negotiation and approval of trade agreements that open markets for manufacturers in the United States. It enables Congress to set trade negotiating objectives and increases Congress’s power to shape and influence deals. (continue reading…)

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Retail Sales Rebounded Somewhat in March

The Census Bureau said that retail sales rebounded in March after declining in each of the previous 3 months. Retail spending rose 0.9 percent in March, with strong growth in motor vehicle and parts sales (up 2.7 percent) helping to lift the overall figure. Excluding motor vehicle and parts, retail sales were up 0.4 percent, still a modest growth rate. (continue reading…)

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NFIB: Small Business Optimism Dipped in March

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said that small business owners were less confident in March. The Small Business Optimism Index dropped from 98.0 in February to 95.2 in March, its lowest level in 9 months. As such, it continues a trend of weaker survey responses so far in 2015, with the headline index down from 100.4 in December, its highest point since October 2006. To be fair, small businesses remain more upbeat today than one year ago (93.4 in March 2014), but growth has clearly slowed in the past three months due to economic headwinds seen in other reports, as well. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturers Like Caterpillar Leading the Way in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Lost in most of the policy discussions about greenhouse gases (GHG) in Washington, is the fact that the U.S. manufacturers are already leading the world in reducing emissions. Through manufacturing ingenuity and a commitment to environmental stewardship, manufacturers have reduced their annual carbon dioxide emissions by over 10 percent from 2005 levels. Manufacturers have also been integral in helping lower the United States’ total annual carbon emissions by nearly 700 million tons over the same time period–more than any other country in the world. (continue reading…)

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The Economic Development and Jobs Growth Tool the Anti-Trade Lobby Loves to Hate; Why ISDS Deserves More than a Little Respect

Clean water in Mexico, new solar energy production in the Czech Republic, food production in Zimbabwe, and energy production in South America. All these are examples of how private entrepreneurial investment from one country to another has the capacity to improve peoples’ lives. (continue reading…)

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NAM Study Influences Lawmakers, Business Leaders on Ozone

It is all over the news, the new proposed ozone regulation from the Obama Administration and it will be the most expensive regulation of all time with a price tag of over $1.7 million from 2017-2024.

A study by NERA Economic Consulting and commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers examined the economic impacts of a 65 ppb national ambient air quality standard for ozone  and revealed that a new ozone regulation could cost the economy $140 billion per year and place over one million jobs at risk. (continue reading…)

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University of Michigan: Consumer Sentiment Declined Unexpectedly Again in March

The University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters said that consumer confidence unexpectedly slipped for the second straight month. The Consumer Sentiment Index has dropped from 98.1 in January to a revised 95.4 in February to 91.2 in March, according to preliminary data. The January figure had been the highest level in 11 years. Americans continue to be more positive today than one year ago, with the index measuring 80.0 in March 2014, and as such, the longer-term trend remains positive.

However, these data also suggest that the public remains anxious, mirroring the caution seen in recent retail sales data. The University of Michigan survey indicates some easing in both current and expected measures over the past two months. Final data will be released on March 27.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. 

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Strong Intellectual Property Protections in the TPP Have Everything to Do with Good-Paying American Jobs

Ideas, brands and inventions are the competitive advantage of the more than 265,000 manufacturers large and small across the United States and the more than 12 million women and men they employ in today’s challenging global marketplace.

Protecting those assets at home and abroad is critical for every sector of manufacturing – and particularly for the biopharmaceutical industry, which contributes some $426 billion to the U.S. economy every year and delivers life-saving and life-changing new therapies for patients suffering from cancer, diabetes and other diseases and disorders. (continue reading…)

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