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Global Economic Slowdown?


As hard as we may try to prevent a global economic slowdown, some say it may be unavoidable.

The price of crude oil, says PFFC contributor Bob Marsh (see Hit the Brakes!), is a key element in determining which way our global and US economies will go. If the price continues to decline, as it has since October, we could be looking at improving conditions. If it doesn’t? Well, says DuPont senior economist Bob Fry, more likely it means a slowdown will rear its ugly head.

The realities of life hit us all square between the eyes when the tragic news of the Asian tsunami was broadcast on December 26, so worrying about the price of crude, in retrospect, may seem utterly absurd. To bring the news of the disaster closer to home, here are some comments from a few companies to be featured in an upcoming article in February that Marsh interviewed for PFFC’s Coating & Laminating Special Report:

While the condition of the Asian economy is still in doubt, none of the plants operated by Applied Films was damaged by the tsunami since they are all located inland.—Gretchen Adams, Applied Films.

None of our DuPont Teijin Films employees or their families were impacted by the tsunami. There is no impact to our Indonesian operations or logistics on the island of Java. DTF’s parents are making donations. Teijin has donated 10 million yen to the Red Cross to support Indonesian recovery efforts. Locally, DuPont and DTF employees across the region have made generous individual donations with matching funds from corporate DuPont. In Singapore, US$23,000 was donated to the Red Cross and DuPont donated US$20,000 to Sri Lanka. At this time, there has been no material affect on demand or supply in the region.—Paul M. Moran, DuPont Teijin Films.

This occurrence has touched everyone’s life here at Proma. We are contributing to the relief effort in three ways. Many of us have family or friends with family in the region and feel the need to contribute time and money on a personal level. We have launched a Tsunami fund and are in the process of collecting money from Proma employees for the victims. We will cancel our annual "Founder’s Day" and instead donate the funds that were to be spent on the celebration to the tsunami victims.—Frank Sereno, Proma Technologies.

As I write this editorial, the earth is reported "still ringing" from the massive earthquake 13 days later, when a couple of days is the norm. And it isn’t showing signs of letting up, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corp. interview, picked up by United Press Intl., with Herb McQueen from the Australian National Univ. When, since the dawn of man, we have grown to depend on Mother Nature performing as usual, such news can be disconcerting at the very least.

Given a little more time for things literally to settle down, along with healthy doses of care, concern, and most important, aid for the victims of this cataclysmic event, we’ll move back to more mundane issues. While dealing with the price of crude or the loss of manufacturing jobs to China seems negligible by comparison, these issues are still important enough to merit our continuing attention—not because they impact our bottom lines, but because ultimately they still do impact the lives of people trying to "get by."

The issues converters or other businesses face in these unsettling times are complex, particularly as we deal with death tolls of historic proportion, which are yet to be fully determined. But simply hiding in a corner and waiting for this tragedy to disappear without our active involvement isn’t an alternative.

On the bright side, local well-developed manufacturing facilities inside the affected tsunami countries will likely put these regions back to work and hopefully to an acceptable—if not, at least, tolerable—standard of living. Between the relief and generosity shown by many countries and countless individuals from around the world, this tragedy could become a symbol of the world’s best joint effort to work together toward a common goal.

Hardly a global slowdown!

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To read more editorials by Yolanda Simonsis, visit our Editorial Archives.

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