Five Downturn Signs You Won't Read about in the Papers

In the past few weeks, I've heard numerous rumblings from domestic manufacturers and the consultants who work with them that we're in for down economic times ahead. While I won't explicitly say the "R" word, you can tell it's implied -- or at least that companies are hedging their bets.

What are these five things? First, two very large Fortune 50 companies -- or at least the industrial divisions in them -- I know of have white collar hiring freezes. These are companies which have had excellent financial performance of late and are the respective leaders in their industries. Second, the sourcing consulting practices of a handful of larger firms that I've spoke with are pushing 100%+ utilization (which is extremely high). Third, there's concern that decreasing liquidity in the mortgage industry could spread to more general business finance and debt restrictions. Fourth, there is greater uncertainty than ever about the Middle East (in both Iraq and Iran). And last, China is becoming harder to read from a growth perspective -- it's now a wildcard in some areas, not a sure thing (at least over the near term).

What does this mean for Spend Management? If you're in the manufacturing world and you are not aggressively focused on pulling cost levers -- or at least getting ready to pull them -- you should be. Indeed, the economic tea leaves are not looking good.

Jason Busch

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