Afternoon Coffee: Procurement Execs Expect Economic Growth to Continue in 2017, Staples to Sell European Operations

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U.S. economic growth will continue in 2017, according to purchasing and supply management executives surveyed for ISM’s semiannual economic forecast. The December 2016 report indicated optimism for the coming year in the manufacturing sector, with revenues expected to increase in 16 manufacturing industries.

Is your procurement organization prepared for the trade, environmental and economic policy changes facing companies in 2017? Join our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 13, to learn the key scenarios you'll need to plan for.

Staples Shifts Focus

Office supply giant Staples said Wednesday it would sell a majority stake of its European operations to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital, the Wall Street Journal reported. The move represents a strategic shift of the company’s focus back to North America, Staples CEO Shira Goodman said.

A federal judge in May blocked the planned merger of Staples and Office Depot, a $6 billion deal, because of antitrust concerns. Coincidentally, Office Depot in November also sold its European stores and delivery business, in that case to Germany’s Aurelius Group.

LexisNexis Doubles Down on Legal Tech

LexisNexis announced Thursday it’s launching a legal tech accelerator in Silicon Valley “designed to give startups a leg-up in the rapidly expanding legal tech industry,” according to a press release. The accelerator will live in the Menlo Park, California, offices of Lex Machina, LexisNexis’ “Legal Analytics” platform.

New ventures in legal technology, such as those at the forefront of computational law, stand to disrupt not only large law firms but also procurement processes, particularly contracts. Still, as Spend Matters Managing Editor Taras Berezowsky explored in a recent article on procurement’s struggle to evolve at global 100 law firms, the biggest barriers to change remain those risk averse, emotionally complicated humans running the show.

Jobless Claims Fall

And finally, more promising news on the job market: The number of American filing for unemployment benefits fell from a five-month high last week, Reuters said, dropping by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 258,000 for the week ended Dec. 3.

The trifecta of a tightening labor market, signs of economic strengthening and rising inflation all point to a likely rate hike when the Federal Reserve its Dec. 13-14 policy meeting.

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