NAM Fights for Manufacturers’ Ability to Diffuse Activist Shareholders

More and more manufacturers are facing unreasonable proposals from activist shareholders. These small but powerful groups of investors are threatening major changes through the proxy voting process, in some cases even pressuring manufacturing companies that have been around for hundreds of years to break apart. The rise of these types of activist shareholder activities has a direct negative impact on the future growth of these manufacturing companies, and the NAM is fighting back against unreasonable activism. (continue reading…)

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NAM Applauds Administration’s Actions on H-4 Work Authorization

The NAM is pleased that the Administration finally moved forward with allowing spouses of certain H-1B visa-holders to have employment authorization. The wait for a green card can be more than a decade for some visa-holders, and during that time their spouses, who many times are highly-educated and skilled themselves, were not permitted to work. This creates frustration and instability for many manufacturing families. Today the Administration officially announced they are finalizing new regulations that allow certain spouses to have work authorization.  Under the new rule, only the spouses of individuals in the final stages of the H-1B process and waiting in-line to clear the excessive green-card backlog, will be permitted to work. (continue reading…)

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Conference Board: Consumer Confidence Pulled Back in February

The Conference Board said that consumer sentiment fell sharply in February. The Consumer Confidence Index declined from a revised 103.8 in January to 96.4 in February. The January figure had been originally reported to be 102.9, and it was the highest point for this measure since August 2007. The decrease in attitudes in this report in February mirrored similar drops in perceptions in the most recent University of Michigan and National Federation of Independent Business surveys. Still, the depth of the pullback in February was larger than expected, and it suggests that the American public remains more anxious than desired. (continue reading…)

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Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Stagnated in February

The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity stagnated in February, ending 10 straight months of expansion in the district. The composite index of general business conditions declined from 6 in January to zero in February, its lowest level since contracting in March 2014. Indeed, many of the underlying measures slipped into negative territory in February. This included new orders (down from 4 to -2), shipments (down from 10 to -1), capacity utilization (down from 9 to -4) and the average workweek (down from 8 to -6). As such, manufacturers clearly pulled back in a number of areas for the month, likely due to global slowness, a stronger dollar and reduced commodity prices. (continue reading…)

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Dallas Fed: Manufacturing Activity Contracted in February for Second Straight Month

The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity contracted in its district for the second straight month. The composite index of general business conditions fell from -4.4 in January to -11.2 in February, its lowest level since April 2013. Reduced crude oil prices have had negative ripple effects throughout the Texas economy, and indeed, many of the sample comments reflected weaker demand throughout the energy supply chain. Beyond energy-related softness, other challenges noted in the comments included the West Coast ports slowdown, a stronger U.S. dollar, increased health insurance costs and regulatory burdens. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – February 23, 2015

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

In the minutes of its January 27–28 meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) provided a nuanced view of the economic outlook. Participants noted that “economic activity had been expanding at a solid pace,” and they were mostly optimistic about the “prospects for further improvement in 2015.” Yet, the FOMC also pointed to some significant headwinds in the U.S. economy, including sluggish global growth, a stronger U.S. dollar, federal government sequestration and reduced crude oil prices. Regarding the latter, the Federal Reserve said that it was concerned that “persistently low energy prices might prompt a larger retrenchment of employment [and capital investment] in these industries.” (continue reading…)

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Let’s Set the Record Straight on “Transparency” and “Loopholes

One of NAM’s goals is to make the United States the best place to manufacture and attract foreign direct investment. There are many things policy makers can do to help achieve this goal, including creating a favorable tax climate. On the flip side, there are a number of ways policy makers can make this goal even harder to achieve, for example by imposing costly, unnecessary, anti-competitive rules and regulations. A case in point is legislation—the Truth in Settlements Act—introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and several other bills that aim to change the tax treatment of fines and penalties. (continue reading…)

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Markit: European Manufacturing Activity Improved in February Ever-So-Slightly

The Markit Flash Eurozone Manufacturing PMI edged ever-so-slightly higher, up from 51.0 in January to 51.1 in February. This suggests very modest growth in manufacturing activity in February, with better data for new orders (up from 50.6 to 50.9), output (up from 52.1 to 52.2) and exports (up from 50.7 to 51.8). Hiring in the Flash Eurozone Composite PMI, which includes all segments of the economy, rose to its highest level since August 2011, but this was primarily in the service sector. Indeed, for manufacturers, the pace of employment growth was unchanged in February at 50.6. (continue reading…)

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Philly Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded at a Slightly Slower Pace in February

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that manufacturing activity expanded at a slightly slower pace in February than in January. The composite index of general business activity declined from 6.3 to 5.2. Overall activity was softer in both January and February than in prior months, with the headline index averaging 21.5 over the 10-month period from March through December. Nonetheless, the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey continues to reflect mostly positive attitudes about the economy, with 55.0 percent of respondents suggesting that demand had increased so far in 2015 relative to the last quarter of 2014. (continue reading…)

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Ex-Im Bank Fuels Alabama Exporters

Earlier today in Hope Hull, Ala., National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons Jay VT Miltopetoured the shopfloor at VT Miltope, a leading U.S. manufacturer of computers and computer peripheral equipment for military, industrial and commercial tactical and aviation applications.

Joined by VT Miltope Executive Vice President Brigadier- General Edward F. Crowell (USAF Retired) and Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Billy Canary, Timmons continued to emphasize the importance of securing a long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank in Congress on one of the final legs of the State of Manufacturing tour.

“Suppliers like VT Miltope are the backbone of our nation’s manufacturing economy. A long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank is a necessary step that this Congress needs to take action on immediately to support job-creators. The debate over the future of the Ex-Im Bank boils down to whether we want manufacturers in the United States to win overseas, or whether we want our foreign competitors and their workers to swoop in and seize these opportunities,” Timmons said. (continue reading…)

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