Afternoon Coffee: Procurement Groups Combat Rising Materials Prices, Walmart Targets CSR Improvements in its Supply Chain

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Costs for materials, equipment and construction are rising across the board, leaving procurement executives with tough decisions to make on near-term buying strategies, according to a recent report by HIS Markit and the Procurement Executives Group (PEG). Materials and equipment prices increased at a more robust pace in April, with the IHS index posting a gain of 6.3 points, reaching 65.7. Steel in particular began to worry buyers, as recent government decisions have created significant uncertainty about where prices will go.

“Steel buyers seem paralyzed by the uncertainty around 232 and 301 tariffs: when the cost is unknowable and availability is dubious, rational behavior is to do nothing,” said John Anton, associate director, pricing and purchasing, IHS Markit. “Hopefully, clarity will come by May 1, the due date for a decision on country exemptions.”

Walmart’s CSR Commitments

Walmart’s recently released 2018 Global Responsibility Report reveals much of its strategy to improve corporate social responsibility (CSR) starts from within its supply chain, Supply Chain Dive reports. In particular, the retailer is focusing on labor conditions by making a commitment to address "major risks to the dignity of workers" within retail supply chains by 2025.

New South Wales Government Goes with Beeline

Vendor management system provider Beeline announced Tuesday it has been awarded a contract to provide its technology to the government of New South Wales, according to a press release. The engagement will provide an “end-to-end solution covering contingent workers and statement of work (SOW) based services, along with volunteer placements,” Beeline said. 

Overheating or Underwhelming?

And finally, an economic debate: Is the U.S. economy in danger of running too hot, thus spiking interest rates and destabilizing financial markets? Or is it only beginning to pull workers out of the depths of the Great Recession? It depends whom you ask, as the New York Times explains. Just how the U.S. Federal Reserve comes to a consensus on this debate, however, will be a significant factor in determining how quickly interest rates rise this year.

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