The Industry News Category

The Week In Metals: Inauguration Edition

Early in the week Trump broke with traditional protocol for presidents and presidents-elect and said he desires a weaker U.S. dollar. Since the Carter administration, the Federal Reserve has enjoyed relative autonomy in setting the value of the currency, or even talking about its value, as even comments about it by previous presidents have moved the dollar’s value erratically.

True to form, Trump’s comments helped sink the U.S. dollar index by 1% vs. other major currencies. However, our Raul de Frutos helpfully points out this breach of protocol is good for metal prices as is a weaker dollar.

Blockchain Technology & The Reformation of Procurement as We Know It

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Thomas Cherian of GEP.

The reality of blockchains becoming the basic building block of tomorrow’s connected world is fast approaching. According to some, that day has already arrived. A lot has happened over the past year regarding the revolutionary concept of blockchains, which are expected to store an estimated 10% of global GDP in its network over the next decade.

Bunker: A New Platform Innovates Business Insurance for Self-Employed/Gig Workers

The emergence and expansion of the so-called gig-economy (the non-employee, project and task-based segment of the labor market) has opened up challenges for both businesses and workers.

Businesses previously vigilant about the classification and other compliance risks that come with self-employed, 1099s/independent contractors (ICs) are now faced with the dilemma of how to work with the growing population of much-needed talent that prefers self-employment and independence. And self-employed workers and micro-businesses are also facing the challenge of how to “make independence work” without the “support services” that employees never have to think about.

Out of the Trough: U.S. Hog Prices Make a Significant Recovery

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Michael Liberty, market analyst at Mintec.

U.S. hog prices reached seven-year lows in October 2016, but since then the market has bounced back, and we’ve seen a significant price recovery. Prices at the start of 2017 were trading around 46% higher than two months ago. So the question is: why have prices risen so drastically?

Automating Contract Creation, Without Help from Legal: Test-Driving LISA (Part 1)

In the midst of our ongoing research on how AI is changing contract management, we encountered an intriguing tool that allows users to create an NDA from scratch — without a lawyer.

Created by AI Tech Support Ltd. and powered by Neota Logic, LISA (Legal Intelligence Support Assistant) “has been programmed to help you and ‘the other side’ (the receiver) find a commercially sensible middle ground for your NDA.” Instead of the usual back and forth over small points, led by biased human lawyers, LISA allows you hash out an agreement fairly quickly (10–15 minutes) through a web app.

Wendy’s Releases Annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report

Wendy’s moves to phase out antibiotics from its chicken supply is a laudable step, if not particularly cutting-edge. With its peers, including McDonald’s, setting and reaching similar goals regarding antibiotics in their food supply chains, Wendy’s would be left behind if it did not do the same. Spend Matters has reported on this trend before. In a survey of consumers, 74% said they would “pay a higher price for antibiotic-free food and beverages. Similarly, 76% of consumers would pay more for preservative-free food and beverages and 75% said they would pay more for hormone-free products.”

Dow Jones, London FTSE Stocks Leap in December—But Not Our Procurement Portfolio! [Plus+]

procurement stocks

As we leap into the great unknown of 2017, this is our final review of the stocks portfolio we put together for 2016. It featured 21 firms with an interest in procurement and a quote on a major stock market, mainly London or New York. The final month of the year was actually not very dramatic for our firms generally, but it was more so for the wider markets. At the end of November, our overall portfolio was just ahead of the London FTSE All Share Index for the year to date and just behind the Dow Jones. But in December, while our portfolio rose by just 1% or so, London jumped by no less than 5% and New York by 4%, meaning at year-end we trailed those wider indices – although we were still a couple of percentage points ahead of the Dow Jones Global Index. Read on to find out the Biggest Winners and Biggest Losers — and tell us if you'd like us to keep doing these into 2017, would you?

Lumber Trade Wars on the Horizon

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Deni Koenhemsi, senior economist at IHS Markit.

On November 25, 2016, the U.S. Lumber Coalition submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission, asking for relief from what it described as "Canadian subsidies and dumping."

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is scheduled to make its preliminary judgement on January 9, 2017. If the USITC rules in favor of the petitioners, indicating there is material injury to domestic producers, the Department of Commerce will continue to investigate and is likely to make its preliminary countervailing duty determination towards the end of February and antidumping determination towards the beginning of May. Therefore, the timeline points toward increasing price pressure for the spring months, as a result of possible CVD and AD measures coupled with rising construction activity.

Looking Back at the “Billion-Dollar Baby”: Our Top Amazon Posts of 2016

You guys really like reading about Amazon. So much so, that when the editors of Spend Matters were discussing how to approach our end-of-the-year Best Ofs, we said, “The heck with it, let’s just give Amazon its own category.”

But on a more serious note, this year saw some pretty big headlines related to the company, whose supply chain Pierre Mitchell (Chief Research Officer at Spend Matters) called possibly the most advanced in the world. So let’s take a look at our top posts on Amazon from 2016.

Chinese Commodity Prices and Your Supply Chain

Have you noticed prices from your Chinese suppliers increasing in the last month and a half or have you been living in a cave? Is there anything you can do to stop these increases from impacting your bottom line as much? If you read us, the answer is yes (about the prices, not the cave). While many of these costs go to a supplier’s bottom line, being an educated buyer can stop you from having them passed directly to yours.

OPEC, What Have Ye Done? Plastics Outlook for Early 2017 Sees Price Rises

We recently heard from a sourcing professional at a notable mid-size manufacturing firm here in the U.S. that a run-up in China prices for certain industrial commodities has piqued their interest — if not their balance sheets. As far as some key non-metals commodities go, certain drivers will loom larger than others as 2016 comes to an end and Q1 2017 gets under way in less than two weeks. Let’s take a look at the plastics market and how natural gas relates to it.

Here are 5 Key Benefits to Accounts Payable (AP) Automation, or: Can We Be Done With People Already?

“Can we just be done with people, already?”

The automation issue resonates within countless organizations across the globe — and if it doesn’t yet, it should — but AP organizations could especially benefit from automating and digitizing their processes. When it comes to finance and accounting, 47% of AP professionals consider manual data entry and inefficient processes their biggest challenge. But how should my AP organization even begin to automate and digitize? Easy — start thinking of it like riding a bicycle. Read on to find out how.