Kansas City Fed: Manufacturers Began the New Year on a Softer Note

The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity slowed in January, beginning the new year on a softer note. The composite index of general business conditions dropped from 8 in December to 3 in January, its lowest level in five months. Underlying this figure, new orders (down from 14 to -8), production (down from 7 to -2), shipments (down from 8 to -5) and exports (down from zero to -7) declined for the month, and hiring (down from 8 to zero) stagnated. On the positive side, it was the 13th straight month with expanding levels of sentiment, and manufacturers remain mostly optimistic about the coming months. (continue reading…)

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One-Hundred and Twenty Years of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Today, the NAM turns 120. One- hundred and twenty years of advocating for manufacturers, one-hundred and twenty years of growth and innovation in manufacturing, and one-hundred and twenty years of supporting hardworking Americans. To see where the NAM has come in one-hundred and twenty years, let’s take a look back to the past.

The year was 1895 and the place was Cincinnati, Ohio. In the middle of a deep recession, manufacturers saw a strong need to export production to new markets in other countries. The newly founded National Association of Manufacturers began calls for the creation of the U.S. Department of Commerce and helped launch the National Council of Commerce, which later became the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (continue reading…)

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Death and Taxes

It’s been said that nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. Well it appears that the President wants to double down on this certainty by proposing to expand the death tax. (continue reading…)

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New IRS Proposal Clarifies Use of R&D Credit for Software

The Department of Treasury and IRS released new guidance last week on the ability of a company to claim the R&D tax credit on computer software that is developed primarily for the company’s internal use.

Manufacturers may be pleased with the guidance since companies are currently unable to count computer software research intended for the company’s own use as a qualified research expense for the purpose of the credit. The proposal more clearly specifies what types of software would be excluded from using the R&D credit (i.e. software used for administrative functions), and provides examples that may be helpful in determining which activities would qualify for the credit. (continue reading…)

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Housing Starts Rebounded in December, with Progress from Earlier in the Year

The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that new residential construction rebounded in December. New housing starts rose from an annualized 1,043,000 in November to 1,089,000 in December. These data have been up and down for much of the second half of 2014, with December’s value not far from October’s 1,092,000 reading. The underlying story, however, is one of progress. Housing starts averaged 1,052,167 in the second half of 2014, which was a nice improvement from the 955,167 average observed in the first half. In continue to predict that housing starts will exceed 1.1 million in the coming months, and this latest data are relatively close to that mark. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturers to Congress: Act Now to Pass Trade Promotion Authority

Manufacturers applaud President Obama’s call for swift action on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in tonight’s State of the Union address.

Quickly renewing this proven partnership between Congress and the Executive branch is essential to ensure America continues to lead to negotiating new trade agreements that eliminate barriers and open overseas markets for manufacturers and workers. (continue reading…)

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House and Senate to Examine Regulation of Open Internet

Tomorrow is a big day on Capitol Hill for manufacturers who want to continue to leverage technology in their products and processes. Both the House and Senate are holding hearings on how to protect the Internet from unnecessary regulation. These hearings will kick off in earnest the 2015 debate on how to keep the Internet open for business.

We will see some calling for legislation that will provide regulatory certainty to all industries. This certainty will then lead to increased investment in our nation’s communications infrastructure thereby facilitating groundbreaking technological innovations in the products and processes of manufacturers. Others will call for applying outdated, 1930’s-era regulations on a primary tool driving the 21st century economy. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – January 20, 2015

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

Financial markets around the world continued to react to the softening global economic environment. In particular, foreign exchange markets were rocked by news that Switzerland would no longer support its cap on the franc, where that currency has been seen as a safe haven, particularly against the euro. Almost immediately, the Swiss franc appreciated sharply against the euro and other currencies. For its part, the euro has continued to depreciate against the U.S. dollar, with one euro selling for $1.1581 on Friday. This was down $1.3927 on March 17, the high point of 2014, representing an appreciation of more than 17 percent for the U.S. dollar against the euro. These developments could hurt the ability of manufacturers in the United States to grow exports. (continue reading…)

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U.S. Scores WTO Victory Against Discriminatory Argentine Import Restrictions; Manufacturers Look for Quick Redress

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body issued a decision on January 15 finding Argentina’s import restrictions on U.S. and other imported goods breached the international trade rules that Argentina had adopted in joining the WTO.

Since 2012, Argentina had, through its Declaración Jurada Anticipada de Importación or “DJAI,” and other measures, imposed limits on imports and other trade restrictive measures that have limited the ability of U.S. manufacturers to export and participate successfully in the Argentine market. These measures are estimated to affect billions of dollars of U.S. exports each year. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Production Rose 0.3 Percent in December, with 4.9 Percent Growth Year-over-Year

The Federal Reserve Board said that manufacturing production increased 0.3 percent in December, a slower pace than 1.3 percent growth rate observed in November. As such, it was a softer-than-desired end to the year in terms of output. On the positive side, it was the fourth straight monthly expansion for manufacturing production, and the sector has experienced a healthy 4.9 percent increase in output in 2014. That is more than double the year-over-year pace observed in December 2013 of 2.3 percent, for instance, illustrating the significant gains in production and in the outlook made over the past year. Manufacturers continue to be mostly upbeat about 2015, even as they are keenly aware of possible downward risks, especially in global markets. (continue reading…)

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