January Chinese and Eurozone PMI Figures Move Higher, But Global Softness Remains

Even as the global economy remains soft, there were some signs of stabilization in Asia and Europe, according to the most recent purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data. The Markit Flash Eurozone Manufacturing PMI increased from 50.6 in December to 51.0 in January. This was the highest level since July. The pace of growth for new orders (up from 50.2 to 50.4), output (up from 50.9 to 52.2) and employment (up from 50.6 to 50.9) each picked up somewhat. At the same time, exports (down from 51.6 to 50.7) eased slightly but continued to expand. (continue reading…)

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Court’s Shareholder Activist Standard Eliminates Free Market Principles

The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MLAC) filed an amicus brief with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Trinity Wall Street v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. asking the Court to reverse the lower court’s ruling.  In Trinity Wall Street v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,  a federal District Court overruled the staff of the SEC to compel Wal-Mart to include a shareholder proposal in the company’s proxy statement.  The proposal sought greater board oversight over a broad swath of products that could endanger “public safety” or “well-being”, that have “the potential to impair the reputation” of the company and that are “offensive” to “family and community values.”  Now on appeal to the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the MLAC filed an amicus brief in the case in support of Wal-Mart. (continue reading…)

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Imbalances in the Global Trading System Say India and Brazil? Let’s Start with Manufacturing Tariffs

As the World Trade Organization (WTO) enters its third decade, WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo is seeking to move forward on a long stalled global liberalization trade negotiations that began in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. These ambitious, but long troubled talks had fallen apart as major emerging economies, starting with India Brazil and China, failed to commit to ambitious liberalization outcomes for their own economies. (continue reading…)

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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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