Member Briefing May 30, 2024

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

Top Story

Report: Improving Manufacturing and Supply Chain Visibility are Top Priorities for Industry Leaders

Fictiv has released its ninth-annual State of Manufacturing Report. Created with assistance from Dimensional Research, the report highlights responses from 178 industry decision makers who work in engineering, supply chain, research and development, and digital innovation roles. The report, which tracks perspectives on the economy, supply chain, AI, sustainability, and more, shows that the manufacturing industry is at an inflection point. According to Fictiv, the industry is poised between innovation, growth, and the drive to reduce costs and increase profitability. This year’s report shows that improving manufacturing and supply chain visibility are most important to manufacturing decision makers, with manufacturers reporting that economic headwinds and labor costs and shortages are the top factors impacting 2024 strategies. Here are a few key takeaways from the report.

87% of surveyed leaders say that artificial intelligence is "...vital to my company's future success."

45% of respondents plan to increase the speed of innovation, with barriers to innovation decreasing

66% of surveyed manufacturers say reshoring is a priority for their supply chain strategy

Read more at Wells Fargo

Massive Lithium Discovery Made in Pennsylvania

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh have discovered a large amount of lithium located in Pennsylvania, saying it could eventually supply more than a third of America’s needs for the mineral. Researcher and study lead author Justin Mackey told CBS Pittsburgh in an article published Wednesday that the wastewaters of the Marcellus Shale gas wells could cover “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the current U.S. national demand.”

“This study estimates that Marcellus Shale related Li yields have potential to make a significant contribution to US domestic consumption with a set of reasonable, conservative assumptions,” says the research, published in the Nature Journal last month. “If you can extract value out of materials, and specifically lithium from this, then you reduce the cost of remediating and handling this waste,” Mackey said.

Read more at The Hill

Global Headlines

Middle East


Other Headlines

Policy and Politics

Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund Awards Funding to Support More Than 2,400 New Homes in Region

Governor Kathy Hochul yesterday unveiled the first awards under the Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund, a $150 million initiative first announced by the Governor last year to increase the housing supply in New York’s Mid-Hudson region. The winning projects include vibrant mixed-use developments, transit-oriented developments along major commuting hubs, and critical infrastructure improvements that will allow for additional housing in the future. Together, these projects will receive approximately $67 million in state funding to unlock more than $576 million in private investment and more than 2,400 units of housing, including more than 1,300 affordable units, across the Mid-Hudson region.

Among the projects are: $10 million for the Golden Hill project to transform the former Ulster County jail into a new mixed-income and mixed-use community with 164 units of affordable housing in the City of Kingston. $10 million for essential infrastructure improvements required to accommodate up to 1,080 new homes in the City of Peekskill. And $5 million for the 316 Main Street project to construct a six-story, mixed-income building with 80 units of housing and more than 21,000 square-feet of commercial space in the City of Poughkeepsie.

Read the press release and see the complete list of projects

Republicans’ $4 Trillion Question: Should They Pay for Extending Trump Tax Cuts?

Republicans want to extend the Trump-era tax cuts that lapse after 2025. A big point of debate now: Should they cover any or all of the $4 trillion cost—and how? The question pits the party’s fervent belief in the economic power of tax cuts against many GOP lawmakers’ oft-repeated concerns about federal debt and budget deficits. Republican lawmakers and aides say they have made no decisions, and the ultimate call will depend on whether they have congressional majorities next year—and by how many seats.

Extending all expiring individual and estate tax cuts, along with business-tax changes Republicans favor, would reduce projected revenue by $4 trillion over a decade, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. That would come atop $20 trillion in new deficits projected under current laws. Next year’s tax debate will happen against a very different fiscal backdrop than existed in 2017 when the tax law was enacted. Then, the budget deficit was 3.4% of gross domestic product. Now, it is routinely above 5%, because of spending increases, the aging population, interest costs and the tax cuts. And interest rates are much higher.

Read more at New York State of Politics

Biden Taps NLRB Chair for New Term, Seeking to Lock in Democratic Majority

President Joe Biden has nominated National Labor Relations Board Chair Lauren McFerran for a third term, a move that could cement Democratic control of the agency even if Biden is unseated by Republican challenger Donald Trump in November. The White House announced the nomination on Thursday even though McFerran's current five-year term does not expire until December. If McFerran is confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, the five-member board would continue to have a Democratic majority until August 2026 when the term of Biden appointee David Prouty expires.

Under McFerran, the NLRB has issued a series of rulings criticized by Republicans and business groups that have made it easier for unions to organize workers and have expanded the type of concerted activity protected by federal labor law. Kristen Swearingen, chair of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, an umbrella group of business organizations, accused Biden of "trying to hijack the NLRB" and cement the decisions issued since he took office.

Read more at Reuters

Health and Wellness

Mental Health in the Workplace: a Conversation Bridging Research and Practice

How can we promote mental health in the workplace? This is a question that Zhiqing (Albert) Zhou, PhD, and Lawanda Lewis are constantly asking themselves in their work, just from different perspectives. As an associate professor in the Department of Mental Health, Dr. Zhou researches how employees’ work-related experiences impact their health, well-being, and safety. As an HR Business Partner who oversees multiple academic departments at the Bloomberg School, Ms. Lewis has firsthand experience with assessing the mental health needs of employees and the effectiveness of workplace mental health and wellness programs.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, Johns Hopkins brought them together for a wide-ranging conversation about research, practice, program implementation, and what still needs to be learned to help workplaces manage and support the mental health of their employees.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Election 2024

Industry News

IMF Upgrades China's GDP Growth Forecasts but Warns of Risks Ahead

China's economy is set to grow 5% this year, after a "strong" first quarter, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday, upgrading its earlier forecast of 4.6% expansion though it expects slower growth in the years ahead. The global lender's new projections come as Beijing steps up efforts to shore up an uneven recovery in the world's second-biggest economy, which has stumbled in the face of a protracted property crisis and its ripple effects across investors, consumers and businesses.

The IMF said it had revised up both its 2024 and 2025 GDP targets by 0.4 percentage points but warned that growth in China would slow to 3.3% by 2029 due to an ageing population and slower expansion in productivity. It now expects China's economy to grow 5% in 2024 and to slow to 4.5% in 2025.

Read More at Reuters

With $14 Billion U.S. Steel Deal in Limbo, Nippon Steel Seeks Community Support

Nippon Steel has launched a charm offensive to win support for its planned acquisition of U.S. Steel in a bid to counter the deal’s staunchest critics. U.S. Steel shareholders overwhelmingly approved the company’s $14.1 billion takeover in April, but the deal remains bogged down by federal regulatory review and a raft of opposition. Leaders of the United Steelworkers union, some members of Congress and Cleveland-Cliffs, U.S. Steel’s main rival, have panned the purchase. President Biden has expressed skepticism about it.

Takahiro Mori, vice chairman of the Tokyo-based steelmaker, met this past week with business executives and government leaders in the Pittsburgh area, which includes U.S. Steel’s headquarters and its Mon Valley Works operation. The company said it would invest at least $1.4 billion to improve the performance of U.S. Steel’s older mills, which also include operations in Indiana. Nippon Steel spends more than $500 million a year on research and development, compared with about $40 million by U.S. Steel, according to the companies. Mori said Nippon Steel’s chief technology officer will visit the Mon Valley Works as part of the planning for production improvements.

Read more The WSJ

Cleveland-Cliffs Is in Talks to Buy US Plants of Russia’s NLMK

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. is in talks to acquire the US Midwest assets of Russia’s largest steelmaker Novolipetsk Steel PJSC, according to people familiar with the matter. New York-listed Cliffs has expressed interest in a potential deal to NLMK, as the steelmaker is also known, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Some of the people said that Cliffs has signed a non-disclosure agreement.The assets, which consists of steel-mill facilities in Indiana and Pennsylvania, could be valued at more than $500 million in a potential sale, they added.

If negotiations are successful, it would mark Cliffs’ first move in dealmaking since its failed attempt to buy United States Steel Corp., which announced a $14.1 billion takeover by Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp. last December. Cliffs, under Chief Executive Officer Lourenco Goncalves, has shown an appetite to do deals even before it became a bidder for US Steel. It bought AK Steel Holding Corp. as well as the US assets of ArcelorMittal SA in 2020. Goncalves has been critical about Nippon Steel’s takeover bid for US Steel and has expressed interest in doing another deal for his American rival if US authorities block the Nippon Steel transaction.

Read more at Yahoo Finance

Merck Nears $1.3 Billion Deal for Eye-Drug Company EyeBio

Merck & close to a $1.3 billion deal to buy Eyebiotech, a move that would push the big drugmaker into the large and growing market for eyecare. Under the terms, Merck would pay the $1.3 billion in cash upfront to acquire the closely held biotech, according to people familiar with the matter. Merck could make an additional $1.7 billion in milestone payments for the company, which goes by the name EyeBio.

The deal could be announced as early as Wednesday, the people said. Merck’s venture arm was an investor in EyeBio.  EyeBio’s lead drug, Restoret, is in development to treat eye conditions including a form of age-related macular degeneration that leads to blurred vision and potentially blindness. In older people with the disease, known as Wet AMD, a part of the retina wears down, and fluid leaks from blood vessels.

Read more at The WSJ

Home Prices Soar To All-Time High In March—Here Are The Fastest-Growing Cities

Home prices across the U.S. rose by 6.5% in March from a year earlier, up from the previous month’s 6.4%—posting the ninth straight month of record highs since June 2023, on a seasonal adjusted basis. Prices across 10 major metropolitan areas grew by 8.2% year-over-year—up from February’s 8.1%—and prices in 20 major cities rose 7.4%, up from 7.3% annual gain last month with both indices reaching “another all-time high,” said Brian Luke, head of commodities, real and digital assets at S&P Dow Jones in a release.

San Diego continued to report the highest price hike across 20 major metropolitan areas, at 11.1% from last year, followed by New York (9.2%), Cleveland (8.8%) and Los Angeles (8.8%) — showing “strong demand for urban markets,” noted Luke. New York and L.A., the two largest population centers, account for around 30% of the 20-City home prices index—and have shown significant recovery, aligning with the national average annual price increase of 9.9% since 2020. While home prices in San Francisco and Seattle are still trailing previous highs in May 2022—they recorded the strongest monthly gains recently, indicating a rebound in their housing markets, according to the Case-Shiller data. Portland and Denver posted the slowest annual increases at 2.2% and 2.1%, followed by Minneapolis and Dallas at 3.3% and 3.6%, respectively.

Read more at Forbes

ConocoPhillips to Acquire Marathon Oil in $17.1 Billion All-Stock Deal

op U.S. independent oil and gas producer ConocoPhillips on Wednesday agreed to buy Marathon Oil for $22.5 billion, the latest in a series of mega-deals in the energy industry. The U.S. oil and gas industry has been riding a consolidation wave over the last two years as companies look to bolster reserves and create economies of scale. Last year was one of the most active, with some $250 billion in deals struck. The momentum has carried over into this year as the stock market continues to boom and as U.S. shale oil production scales new records.

The all-stock offer equates to $30.33 per Marathon share, a premium of nearly 15% to the stock's Tuesday close, according to Reuters calculations. The transaction, which includes $5.4 billion of Marathon's debt, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2024. ConocoPhillips expects cost savings of $500 million within the first full year after the closing of the transaction. The acquisition adds over 2 billion barrels of reserves to its portfolio.

Read more at Yahoo

Boeing Wins $7.5 Billion Contract From US Air Force for Guided Bombs

The Air Force awarded Boeing a contract worth nearly $7.5 billion to build more kits to convert bombs into guided weapons known as Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The company will provide JDAM tail kits and other supplies under the sole-source fixed-price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, the Pentagon said Friday. The company will work on the kits, as well as spares, repairs, technical assistance and laser JDAM sensor kits, at its St Louis, Missouri, facility through the end of February 2030.

To create JDAMs, the Air Force or Navy attaches guidance tail kits to unguided “dumb” bombs that range from 500 pounds to 2,000 pounds. That tail kit includes a navigational system and a GPS guidance control unit that allows the bomb to be steered from an aircraft toward its ground target, even in rough weather. The per-unit cost of a JDAM kit ranges from about $25,000 to $84,000 apiece, depending on how many units the Air Force buys in a year.

Read more at Defense News

Oil Extends Gain as Geopolitical Risks Simmer Before OPEC+ Meet

Oil extended gains as another attack on a ship in the Red Sea added to heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East ahead of an OPEC+ meeting. Brent futures rose above $84 after ending 1.4% higher on Tuesday, while West Texas Intermediate traded at more than $80. A bulk carrier has taken on water after being attacked while sailing through the key waterway, while Israeli tanks have reached the center of the southern Gazan city of Rafah in its ground invasion.

Oil has climbed this year due to tensions across the Middle East and output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, although prices have softened since early April because of abundant supply outside of the group and weaker demand in Asia. OPEC+ is set to meet online on Sunday and expected to roll over its curbs into the second half of 2024.

Read more at Bloomberg

The Late Bill Walton's Perspective on the One Decision Every Great Leader Must Make

Bill Walton, who passed away yesterday at the age of 71, lived a number of lives. There was the three-time national college basketball player of the year and two-time NCAA champion. There was the passionate Grateful Dead fan and consummate lover of life. There was the beloved broadcaster known for his loose personality, quick wit, and sometimes biting commentary. But what I'll remember most about Walton was his perspective on leadership.

Walton believed success at the highest level in basketball comes down to one question: "Can you make the choice that your happiness can come from someone else's success?" If you can make that decision, you take the most important step towards becoming a great leader. To Walton, that didn't just mean being a great formal leader; informal leaders can also decide their happiness can come from someone else's success. None of us have qualities like courage, vision, charisma, adaptability, and decisiveness in equal measure. But we can all make the decision Walton described. We can all decide that sometimes our happiness can come from someone else's success.

Read more at Inc.