The Weekly View: The Unheralded Revival of US Manufacturing
Comment of the Day

February 15 2012

Commentary by David Fuller

The Weekly View: The Unheralded Revival of US Manufacturing

My thanks to Rod Smyth, Bill Ryder and Ken Liu for their ever-interesting market letter published by RiverFront. Here is the opening:
We are long-term stock bulls and Treasury bond bears because of valuations. We believe that stock valuations are cheap and Treasury valuations are expensive because the global economic outlook is uncertain. Greece exemplifies this uncertainty, but we believe good news in the US - a manufacturing giant - trumps bad news in a small economy such as Greece. US manufacturing is delivering exciting news. The following excerpt from a report by ISI Group, one of our research providers, reinforces a point that we have been making: US manufacturing is experiencing a revival that is gaining momentum. Furthermore, ISI observes that last week marked the 19th week of stronger US economic data. We think this far outweighs Greece's problems in its long-term impact on our stock portfolio. The US economy is recovering despite the problems in Europe.

David Fuller's view Evidence of a revival in US manufacturing is certainly a more important story for the global economy than Greece's implosion, although the latter event still retains the capacity, albeit diminished by familiarity, to have a negative effect on investor sentiment.

To the extent that US manufacturing employment is now increasing, I see four main contributing factors:

1) the economy is still on steroids in the form of QE; 2) inventories had fallen to very low levels and need to be replenished as the economy has avoided recession; 3) US labour is less uncompetitive now that unions have moderated demands and wages have steadily increased in China; 4) as the US moves closer to energy independence, thanks to shale gas and oil deposits, chemical companies and other manufacturers can assume that energy costs will be lower and also more stable than in most other manufacturing countries.

Back to top