Spend Matters Afternoon Coffee

Your printer is wasting more than $300 million a year in taxpayer dollars.

Cutting costs, one printer at a time -- The General Services Administration thinks it can recoup that money -- and more -- by changing the way the government buys and uses printers, copiers and fax machines. Scheduled to begin in fiscal 2011, this government-wide "strategic sourcing" initiative is one of several that GSA and the Office of Management and Budget are coordinating.

The goal is to consolidate agencies' buying power and adopt the best acquisition practices of government and industry, in order to squeeze industry for better deals.

Also under government spend analysis: shipping (they just signed an exclusivity contract with UPS), office supplies and cell phones and wireless services. Say goodbye to your individual printers, feds!

Your supply chain should be flexible: rigidity may cause it to break.

Supply Chain failures cause Serious Damage -- Symptoms of an impending disruption are usually evident well in advance, he notes. "As with a heart attack, companies suddenly feel a lot of pain, but there have long been plenty of indications that they're not doing so well," he says. "If the companies involved had planned better, the disruption could have been avoided."

Singhal and Hendricks' research shows that in the year leading up to the disruption, firms on average experience a 107 percent decrease in operating income, 7 percent lower sales growth, and an 11 percent growth in cost. They suffer 33 to 40 percent lower stock returns (relative to their industry benchmarks) over a three-year period, starting one year before and ending two years after the announcement of the disruption. Share-price volatility rises by 13.5 percent in the year after a disruption.

Long-term effects of Eyjafjallajokull

A Volcano's Fallout: Strategies for Disruption -- The broader long-term questions for business are now taking shape: How will an erupting volcano -- or any major disruption, natural or otherwise -- affect global commerce, and what can be done to mitigate both risk and economic disaster in the future?

Despite all the negative impacts, a positive twist arises in that this situation forces these questions, and raises awareness to the level it should have been at in the first place.

Food security is lax.

Steep price rises spark fears over global food security -- Food commodity prices will increase more than previously expected in the next decade because of rising energy prices and developing countries' rapid growth, two leading organisations said yesterday, worsening the outlook for global food security.

"A return to higher global economic growth . . . together with continuing population gains, are expected to increase demand and trade and underpin prices," the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said in their annual agricultural outlook.

It's bedtime, Japan.

Japanese told to go to bed an hour early to cut carbon emissions -- The Japanese government has launched a campaign encouraging people to go to bed and get up extra early in order to reduce household carbon dioxide emissions. The Morning Challenge campaign, unveiled by the Environment Ministry, is based on the premise that swapping late night electricity for an extra hour of morning sunlight could significantly cut the nation's carbon footprint.

Would you do it?

Sheena Moore

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