I am just as patriotic as the next guy, I guess, respectfully honoring Independence Day on the 4th of July -- but not when it occurs in the middle of the week. My complaint here is that I experience two "Mondays" in one week, and that's not a good thing. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is working and my international e-mails keep streaming in, waiting for answers while I lounge in the hammock.
To top off this year's July event, the business news is not good. While trying to fathom what impact a reported slowdown in Latin America, Brazil and Argentina will have on industrial laser exports, I was hit by a new Wall Street Journal headline: "Factory Slump Reaches US." In this case, the former feeds the latter. Not a pleasant way to celebrate the 4th.
The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) has revised its Latin America forecast for overall manufacturing output in 2012 down to 3.1% from 4.4%. According to MAPI, manufacturing activity in Brazil stopped a year ago and has been contracting for the past six months. Brazil has been identified as a major market for industrial laser products -- as recently as last month, at a VDMA briefing in Stuttgart, Brazil was identified as prime territory for industrial laser expansion.
In fairness, the MAPI report was very positive on Mexico, which, led by automotive and machinery, is proving resilient to the downward trend in Latin America.
The effects of global economic slowdown have finally filtered down to the US manufacturing sector, where the Institute for Supply Management says exports fell and new orders dropped for the first time since July 2009. Many experts had anticipated this, thinking it was an inevitable action as Europe, a major trading partner, can't seem to get its act together and the stop-gap action by China's government to get that countries economy moving again seems to have had little effect.
As I rock in my hammock, a thought occurs to me. The USA fought for its independence on this day we celebrate -- but some 230 years later our independence is questionable, as a global economy and its effects make us interdependent on the actions of others.