On May 8, 2009, Jim Meil, Vice President and Chief Economist of Eaton Corp. gave an update of the state of the economy of the end use markets of fluid power components and related products. There were some encouraging reports and some still frustrating reports. If you are an NFPA member, you can pick up the archived webcast on their website at www.nfpa.com.
While most indicators are still showing an extended downturn of our economy, the encouraging news is that there are some signs of stability. At this point, stability is great. I think that we all have some confidence that housing starts will improve and possibly even this year. The Purchasing Managers Index of manufacturing is starting to show some improvement.
But, both industrial and mobile hydraulic shipments are still trending downward. I am guessing that this will remain so for at least the next two quarters. After that, we could either have a gradual upturn or a more hearty recovery. I am hoping for at least a gradual improvement.
Getting back my earlier experience with the Detroit Roundtable luncheon, we are all trying to work through this economic condition. Many companies have reduced workforces, reduced hours, or both. Most businesses are taking a close look at all of their costs and procedures to make sure they are as lean as possible.
It appears to me that everyone is working as hard or harder than ever. This will pay off and we will reap the rewards of our actions during this time. Of course, the automotive market is depressed. We need to work through that. Things will be better, it is just a matter of how soon, how rapid, and how long.