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There's a monster under the bed of the nation's economy. It has the same power over many adults as a child's nightmare.
Economic times are good right now in America and in the gear industry. We're in the seventh year of an up cycle. The tough shake-outs of the 1980s and early 90s are over. Orders are up. Backlogs are at comfortable levels. We're looking at what promises to be the biggest, most successful trade show in the industry's history coming up in Detroit in October. The most pressing question on the immediate horizon seems to be "How long can the good times go on?"
Happy days are here again, says the old song, and given the current economic numbers, one can scarcely argue. Productivity is up; unemployment is down; inflation is practically nonexistent; the budget deficit is shrinking fast.
Listen carefully these days and you'll hear a faint rumbling among the economic masses. It's probably nothing to worry about. It'll most likely go away. It's only the naysayers and skeptics who predict that the end is near. They've been doing to far almost all eight years of our current economic boom, and they've been wrong so far.
Just back from IMTS and once again, I'm struck by the enormous vitality and strength of the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy. It has made a phoenix-like rise from the grave dug for it by pundits in the '80s and has come back more robust and competitive than ever.
Another year has passed and, because of the short term ups and downs of the economy, it's still hard to judge whether we are in an appreciably different place than we were a year ago. The economy doesn't seem to be worse than it was, but it also doesn't seem to be a whole lot better.
Of timing is crucial in the successful implementation of good ideas, then now is the time to reinstate a good idea that fell into disfavor in the mid-1980s. Now is the time to include the investment tax credit as part of whatever inevitable tax structure tinkering is going to take place during this election year.
Two items of interest have crossed my desk in the last couple of weeks. One of them is a copy of a speech by Harry E. Figge, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Figge, International Inc., and the other is an article by Peter Brimelow in the July 19, 1993, issue of Forbes. The two items are directly related to one another, the Brimelow article being a response to the points raised in Figge's speech and in much grater detail in his book, Bankruptcy 1995: The Coming Collapse of America and How to Stop It. Both the speech and the response are well worth our attention.
Publisher Michael Goldstein is confident that the manufacturing economy will continue to grow throughout next year, no matter who wins the 2012 presidential election.
A good many things bother me about election years - the annoying sound bites, the negative commercials, the endless political over-analysis. But what bothers me most about the coming election is this: So far (when I'm writing this, it's admittedly early in the campaign) there's little or no talk about what is one of the most critical national issues of the next thirty years - our growing government debt.
The past several months have been filled with uncertainty. Everyone wanted to wait and see who would be our next president and how the political landscape might change. Now the elections are over, and the polls are all closed, so we should all be getting back to business, right? Publisher Michael Goldstein shares insight from our state-of-the-gear-industry survey.
Gear manufacturers are generally an optimistic bunch, as revealed by our 2013 State-of-the-Gear-Industry Survey, which appears in this issue.
If you are like most navigators of the printed page, the first thing you read in this final 2013 issue of Gear Technology was our State of the Gear Industry Survey. And who would blame you? It’s not Sabermetrics, but once you’ve read it you’ll have a pretty clear snapshot of last year and a peek into the next. But if you also like to get a little closer to the bone about things, what follows are the collected opinions of five well-regarded people in the gear industry speaking to a number of issues with relevance.
Gear Technology’s annual State-of- the-Gear-Industry survey polls gear manufacturers about the latest trends and opinions relating to the overall health of the gear industry. As in years past, the survey was conducted anonymously, with invitations sent by e-mail to gear manufacturing companies around the world.
Following is a report from The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). Founded in 1933, the alliance contributes to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing by providing economic research, professional development, and an independent, expert source of manufacturing information.
Over the past few months we've talked with a lot of gear manufacturers. Many of them tell us business is strong, while others are struggling with reduced demand. The difference between them isn't so much in the quality of their manufacturing operations, but rather trends in the end markets they serve.
It wasn’t so very long ago that a high school-educated, able-bodied person with a will to work typically had little trouble finding a decent job in manufacturing. Whether at an area job shop, an OEM plant or auto plant—work was to be had. Work that paid well enough to marry, buy a home, feed, raise and educate a family—with even enough left over for a modest retirement pension.
Before we get into projections and prognostications about the future, let’s take a minute to review 2012. For many in the gear industry, the year was better than expected. Some manufacturers had a very successful year leading up to an even more successful manufacturing trade show (IMTS 2012). Others were searching for more business, hoping that the general state of the economy wouldn’t make things worse. In some cases, it did.
Trying to figure out what’s going on in this crazy economy of ours seems a bit like reading tea leaves—one part pseudoscience and three parts wild conjecture. Of course some pundits are telling us that this bull market has legs, while others insist that we’re due for a major correction. Some pump us up with positive news, while others remind us about scary stuff like the budget deficit, the European financial crisis and unemployment.
Taxes may be one of the only two sure things in life, but that doesn't make them popular. Nobody is happy to pay them, and the bigger the amount due, the unhappier the taxpayer. Conversely, politicians know that coming out in favor of a tax cut is the equivalent of voting for apple pie and motherhood. It's a sure-fire success at the ballot box.
A medieval philosopher once said that if he knew for certain the world was to end tomorrow, he would be sure to take time to plant an apple tree in his garden today. The recent events in the world financial capitals have seemed a bit like prior notice of something cataclysmic, but like the philosopher, we can still find some reasons for hope in the face of an uncertain future. The good news for our industry is that four important efforts on the part of various organizations promise to have long-term positive effects on both the gear and machine tool businesses.
The world economy is in turmoil. A year ago, the Dow Jones industrial average was more than 14,000. As I write this, after eight straight days of massive losses and a week of wild up-and-down swings, the average sits at about 8,900.
Step right up! Get your U.S. government gravy here! We’re the U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, and we’re printing money like we’re—well—the U.S. reasury. If you’ve got trouble, then get your assets in line!
The struggles of the manufacturing economy in 2009 are well documented. Even among those of us with long careers, most of us have never seen activity come to a screeching halt the way it did last year. 2009 was tough on all of us. So, what should we expect in 2010?
While on holiday in England during July, my thoughts for this page were on the proposed changes to our tax law, and how they would adversely affect America's industry. But with the President undergoing cancer surgery, Congress deadlocked on deficit reduction and the budget on the back burner, nothing new was being said or done regarding a new tax law
Three things have happened in the last few weeks, that lead me to believe the worst is over - not that great times are ahead, but that things will get better.
This paper will present data from both laboratory and field testing demonstrating that superfinished components exhibit lower friction, operating temperature, wear and/ or higher horsepower, all of which translate directly into increased fuel economy.
The U.S. economy has been out of kilter for some time. But Uncle Sam isn't going to bail you out. You're going to have to do it yourself.
The good news and the bad news about the gear industry and its role in the overall economy.
A review of "A Nation on Borrowed Time," a book by Joe Arvin and Scott Newton about the decline of America's ability to create wealth through manufacturing, and its effect on the overall economy.
Publisher Michael Goldstein talks about the slow but steady pace of the recovery of the manufacturing economy.
History comes around full circle. It is interesting to talk to gear manufacturers who service the defense, aerospace, automotive and computer industries and find that their sales, production and backlogs reflect excellent and, in some cases, record breaking business.
Now that the new tax bill has been passed, the time has come to begin evaluating how it will affect investment strategies in the machine tool business. Your first reaction may be to think that any motivation to invest in capital improvements in your company is gone, because both the investment tax credit and the accelerated depreciation on capital investment have been removed from the tax law. After all, if Uncle Sam is not going to help us out through some short term tax gains, why should we bother? Can we afford to bother?
Inviting an American shipbuilding industry official to discuss the subject of meeting foreign competition is like inviting Jackie Gleason to speak on dieting. I am painfully aware of the commercial shipbuilding industry situation. Let me tell you a little about it.
Over the past several months, many gear manufacturers and industry suppliers have been telling me how busy they are. Their backlogs are the largest in history, their sales the highest they’ve been in many years. They’ve invested in new capabilities, new machinery and people.
An American renaissance in manufacturing is needed—and long overdue.
A series of short reports on global manufacturing growth and the gear industry's role.
Publisher Michael Goldstein discusses why some gear manufacturing companies are enjoying record years.
How is it that we woke up one day in the early 1980s to find that apparently American industry was suddenly inefficient, our workforce unproductive and our management inept? Almost overnight industry found its sales dropping dramatically, while for many companies foreign competition became excruciatingly intense. This sudden change in the economic climate proved fatal for many companies and has been nearly as hard on our collective morale. In a country used to winning, we began to hear ourselves talked of as losers.