Member Briefing March 22, 2023

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

The CEO Report on Cyber Resilience

“The CEO Report on Cyber Resilience,” a new document from ISTARI, a global cybersecurity firm established by Temasek, the Singapore state investment company and was prepared in collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Said Business School found that CEOs, regardless of their education, must become significantly more cyber-literate. They can’t regard the cyber world as a jungle impenetrable by all except lifelong techies. As the report says, CEOs (and by implication those who report to CEOs) must “move from blind trust to informed trust.” They must understand a new language.

The authors reached their conclusions by conducting 37 interviews with anonymized CEOs of global corporations. Some of their stories are striking. “The CIO came to present at an executive meeting and asked us how many servers we thought the company had,” one CEO said. “The lowest estimate in the room was four. The highest was 250. The reality was more than 4,000. That was an incentive for all of us to understand more. We realized we spend millions each year on this technology but don’t really understand it.”

Read more at Istari

War in Ukraine Headlines


Labor Tensions Rise in Stalled West Coast Port Contract Talks

Tensions in long-running contract talks at West Coast ports are worsening, with employers accusing unionized dockworkers of slowing cargo handling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest gateway for imported consumer goods. The sharp rhetoric marks a shift from a longstanding agreement to maintain public silence on issues around the negotiations, which began last spring. The two sides appear to be no closer to bridging the gap on their disagreements, pointing to the possibility of deeper disruptions to U.S. trade flows.

The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents ocean carriers and port employers, said Monday that dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had stopped staggering work shifts during mealtimes starting last Wednesday. The PMA said that has forced terminals to shut down every day for an hour in the afternoon and another hour at night, interruptions that have triggered “significant delays” in cargo operations and long backups of trucks at terminal gates.

Read more at the WSJ

Fed Begins Crucial Rate Talks Amid Ongoing Bank Concerns

Federal Reserve members kicked off two days of crucial interest rate talks on Tuesday, as the U.S. central bank looks to chart a path between stubbornly high inflation and turbulent financial markets. A majority of analysts and traders believe the Fed will raise its benchmark lending rate a quarter percentage point on Wednesday afternoon -- its ninth consecutive increase -- while a minority predict the U.S. central bank will halt its hiking cycle on banking sector concerns following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).

Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, predicted that the Fed will take "a pause in the inflation fight" and hold rates. "While policymakers have responded aggressively to shore up the financial system, markets appear to be less than fully convinced that efforts to support small and midsize banks will prove sufficient," Goldman Sachs Economic Research analysts wrote in an investor note.

Read more at IndustryWeek

COVID News – Biden Signs Bill on COVID Origins Declassification

President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill Monday that directs the federal government to declassify as much intelligence as possible about the origins of COVID-19 more than three years after the start of the pandemic.

The legislation, which passed both the House and Senate without dissent, directs the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify intelligence related to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. It cites “potential links” between the research that was done there and the outbreak of COVID-19, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. The law allows for redactions to protect sensitive sources and methods.

Read more at The AP

Home Prices Fell in February for First Time in 11 Years

The median price of a US home was lower this February than it was in February 2022, ending more than a decade of year-over-year increases, the longest on record, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Tuesday. The median existing home price was $363,000 in February, down 0.2% from a year ago. This marks the first monthly year-over-year price decline since February 2012. Regionally, prices fell more from a year ago in the West (down 5.6%) and Northeast (down 4.5%), where housing is more expensive. But prices were still climbing from last year in the South (up 2.7%) and the Midwest (up 5%).

Sales of existing homes — which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — shot up 14.5% in February from January. But sales were down 22.6% from a year ago.

Read the Report CNN

Smaller Banks Keep a Close Watch Over Their Liquidity

In the time since Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, bankers around the country have been fielding a lot of questions about their liquidity. And while many bankers have been reassuring depositors that their liquidity is high, some say they’re taking steps to ensure their liquidity stays elevated. People stowed a lot of cash in banks early in the pandemic, especially after the government distributed relief aid. But those days of liquidity pouring in are over, said Dominik Mjartan, CEO of Optus Bank in South Carolina.

“While we grew largely during that period, since that time, that liquidity has been gradually trickling out of the system,” Mjartan said. Part of the issue, he said, is that some of his competitors started offering higher yields after the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates. Now that Silicon Valley and Signature banks have failed, Mjartan said his bank’s concerned that the gradual trickle could pick up.

Read more at Marketplace

H-1B Grace Period Could Be Extended

Last week a commissioner on the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders’ immigration subcommittee recommended lengthening the period during which H-1B visa holders holders can search for a new job after being laid off from 60 days to 180 days. Proponents of the longer grace period say 60 days is insufficient time either to find new employment—a condition of the visa—or to file “an application to switch to visitor status.” 

Currently, H-1B visa holders who have been laid off must “find a new job, file paperwork to change their sponsorship status and receive USCIS approval” all within two months. Complex applicant paperwork and backlogs at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services make this time frame unfeasible.

Read more at Nikkei Asia

La Niña Ends –Lower Natural Gas Prices Might Ensue

NOAA has announced that La Niña is over, and El Niño looms on the horizon. After three years of warm and dry conditions in the south and wetter weather in the north, sea surface temperatures are returning to average levels. La Niña is blamed for overly active hurricane seasons in the Gulf of Mexico and drought in the western U.S. If we are headed to an El-Niño period, depressed natural gas prices would be consistent with recent history.

The most recent IRI plume favors ENSO-neutral to continue through the spring, with El Niño forming during summer 2023 and persisting through the fall [Fig. 6]. In contrast, the forecaster consensus favors ENSO-neutral through summer 2023, with elevated chances of El Niño developing afterwards.

Read more at NOAA

Toxic Chemical Releases in 2021 Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

On March 16 the EPA released its 2021 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows that environmental releases of TRI chemicals from facilities covered by the program remained below pre-pandemic levels and releases in 2021 are 10% lower than 2012 releases, even with an 8% increase from 2020 to 2021. Additionally, in 2021, facilities managed 89% of their TRI chemical waste through preferred practices such as recycling, energy recovery and treatment, while reporting that they released 11% of their TRI chemical waste into the environment.

More than 21,000 facilities submitted reports on 531 chemicals requiring TRI reporting that they released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. EPA, states and Tribes receive TRI data from facilities in sectors such as manufacturing, mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste management.

Read more at EHS Today

Three Things to Consider Before Investing in Mobile Robotics

The autonomous mobile robot (AMR) market saw a massive surge in 2022. This demand was driven by the industry’s need for automated solutions, efficiency, and safety. Propelled by the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, rise in e-commerce and ongoing labor shortages, businesses invested more in AMRs to help alleviate business pressures and remain productive. Company orders for these robots increased by 40% in the first quarter of 2022 YoY.

That growth is just the beginning, as the market is expected to reach $10.6B by 2030. So now, many companies are considering how AMR technology can support their operations. Those looking to invest in AMRs must analyze business operations and identify where robotics-based automation can yield the most significant ROI. By understanding last year’s developments and upcoming trends businesses can make informed decisions about AMR adoption for specific operations.

Read more at Design World

ABB Invests in US Robot Factory as Reshoring Trend Heats Up

ABB is expanding its main US robot factory as its customers there in the automotive, packaging and machinery industries confront a tight labour market as they bring production back home. The Swiss engineering company, which competes with Japan's FANUC (6954.T) and Germany's Kuka (KUKAF.PK), is spending $20 million boosting capacity at its Auburn Hills site in Michigan to meet demand spurred by the Biden administration's massive industrial stimulus package.

The United States is the third largest in the global robotics market, which is worth around $50 billion per year according to estimates by ABB and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). Rapid growth is expected as US companies bring production closer to home to avoid logistic log jams which have gummed up supply chains since the global pandemic.

Read more at Reuters

Boeing Says Aircraft Financing to Rise

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted what had been a booming market for new commercial aircraft, with hundreds of orders cancelled for Boeing and other suppliers during the 2020 and 2021. Demand began to recover in 2022, as Boeing notes in its 2023 Commercial Aircraft Finance Market Outlook (CAFMO.) In the CAFMO report, Boeing noted that In 2022 the majority of new aircraft it delivered were funded with cash, “due to strong operational performance and de-leveraging efforts by customers.” It added that now customers are financing their purchases from capital markets, bank debt, and export credit, though cash funding will continue to have a significant role.

Deliveries backed by aircraft-leasing groups will remain stable in 2023, though Boeing indicated that other funding sources may begin to offer an alternative for carriers.As for new aircraft orders, in the Commercial Market Outlook issued last summer Boeing projected a 20-year (2022-2041)market with a total value of $7.2 trillion for new airplane deliveries, and a global commercial-aircraft fleet increasing by 80% through 2041, compared to 2019.

Read more at American Machinist

Heavy Metal Band Metallica Purchases Vinyl Pressing Plant

It’s not often that the worlds of manufacturing and popular music collide, but when they do, the result is pure metal. So when we heard that Metallica had purchased a majority interest in Furnace Record Pressing, a U.S.-based vinyl pressing company, we were  overjoyed. The company, which was founded in 1996, operates out of a 70,000-square-foot facility in Virginia and presses over 25,000 records a day.

Furnace has worked with Metallica for the past decade to meet the fan’s increasing demand for records. According to Robert Levine for Billboard, “In 2022 and 2021, Metallica rated among the best-selling acts on vinyl in the U.S., according to Luminate – No. 6 in 2022, with 387,000 albums sold and No. 7 in 2021 with 337,000 sold. That’s especially remarkable for a brand that hasn’t released a new album since 2016.

Read more at Plant Services

SUNY Delhi Mechatronics Program Looking to Place Interns

SUNY Delhi’s popular Mechatronics programs have many students from the Hudson Valley who will be looking for summer internships and employments. Delhi students learn the skills to design, build, and troubleshoot smart industrial systems. Their cutting-edge program equips students with a breadth of skills in the fields of innovative automation and manufacturing, Delhi has both an associate degree in mechatronics as well as a bachelor’s degree, which is the first such degree in the nation.

If you are interested in learning more about the program and possible summer interns please contact Shawn Cobstill, Assistant Professor and Intern coordinator.