ASA Insights
Jul. 5, 2012

Lame Duck Scenarios Coming Into Focus for Members of Congress
American Supply Association
Congress has four months until the November elections. In reality, however, it has closer to 20 working days scheduled to do any work in Washington. Because many members of Congress are running for re-election, their voting schedule often is set for no sooner than 6:30 p.m. Monday, or even Tuesday. Then, they are back on a plane again by noon on Friday. Realistically, this leaves only Wednesdays and Thursdays to do the people's business. With this being said, as we have pointed out, a number of critical provisions must be agreed upon to stave off economic catastrophe before Dec. 31.More

Transportation Bill Signed into Law: What's In and What's Out?
American Supply Association
There are few terms that can be as directly tied to how negatively Americans view Congress as "The Bridge to Nowhere." Now more than seven years old, this national, albeit arcane controversy is a source of Republicans losing control of the House in 2006 and the end to a practicing known as "earmarking." Earmarking is a practice of an elected official requesting specific funding for a project in his or her district (that originally was requested by that community). Since then, earmarking has become a thing of the past, and legislators have been reluctant to make these requests again.More

The High Performance Model For Wholesale Distributors
Industrial Distribution
There is a million-dollar opportunity in your business right now that doesn't depend on the economy and has nothing to do with your competition. It's hiding in underperforming gross margin, cost inefficiencies and slow cash cycles. It's draining out of the bottom of your service offering through customer loss and constant internal service rework. It's pickpocketing your growth potential. Yet, its elusiveness has become so ingrained in your day-to-day business that you resign yourself to accept this million-dollar loss as the cost of your culture. "It's just the way it is."More

US Consumers Better at Debt Repayment for Now
Reuters via CNBC
The American Bankers Association said consumer delinquencies fell in 10 of 11 categories it tracks, including personal loans, bank cards and direct auto loans. The only category in which delinquencies rose was in home equity lines of credit. That rate of delinquency rose to 1.78% of all accounts from 1.69% the prior quarter, which the ABA attributed to the sluggish recovery in the housing sector. The ABA defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.More

Factory Orders Rise More than Expected in May
New orders for U.S. factory goods rose more than expected in May, a hopeful sign for U.S. manufacturers who have appeared more vulnerable to Europe's festering debt crisis. The Commerce Department said on Tuesday new orders for manufactured goods rose 0.7% during the month. Economists had forecast orders rising 0.2%. The report showed broad gains across industries making everything from machinery and appliances to cars and planes. Still, the trend in U.S. manufacturing has appeared softer and has added to concerns the economic recovery is losing steam.More

Manufacturing Sector Contracts in June
Modern Distribution Management
Manufacturing contracted in June for the first time since July 2009, despite overall economy growth for the 37th consecutive month, according to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management Report on Business. The PMI registered 49.7% in June, 3.8 percentage points lower than May's reading of 53.5%. This indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector for the first time since July 2009, when the PMI registered 49.2%.More

Precedent, Politics, and the Practical Reality: A Layman's View of the Health Care Ruling
For most, the only thing more confusing than the nearly 3,000-page Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," is the ruling the Supreme Court of the United States made regarding it. Although the policies of ACA emerged essentially intact, there is a great deal more substance to the Court's ruling beyond the not-so-obvious political ramifications. Indeed, Chief Justice John Roberts may have found a way to trap both political parties and President Barack Obama into accepting precedent that will profoundly change the way the federal government does business for decades to come.More

Survey: Supply Chain Cost Reduction is Manufacturing's Top Priority
Material Handling & Logistics
Reducing overall supply chain costs is manufacturing's No. 1 supply chain priority in the coming year, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights' 2012 U.S. Supply Chain Survey of 350 companies. Eighty percent of respondents gave that answer, while nearly 55 percent suggest supply chain agility is second and 52 percent suggest improving product quality and safety is the third most important priority.More

Metals: Copper Falls on Weak Data, Fading EU Euphoria
Copper prices were almost one percent lower in line with a weaker euro as a string of bleak global macroeconomic data reignited concerns about demand for the red metal, bringing an abrupt end to last week's short covering rally.More

Dynamic Supply Chain Alignment: A Theory Ready for Practical Application
The 21st Century Supply Chain
Trevor Miles writes, "A few weeks ago I attended the Global Supply Chain Business Summit hosted by John Gattorna, who has written two important books and several articles on supply chain management — more specifically on segmentation which then drives supply chain structure, both physical and organizational. There were 10 panels on a range of themes."More

Wringing Value from the Supply Chain: The Case for Business Integration
Looking at the current manufacturing business landscape, we continue to see a tug of war within companies on how best to position their supply chains. As they become more global, and search for the best operating model to streamline and consolidate business units, concerns for consistency around functional direction can lead to structures that provide clarity on cost drivers while at the same time negatively impact performance.More