Industrial Insight

Steel production still off from last year

October 21, 2014
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Steel production drops again last week

October 14, 2014
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Commodity Prices

October 13, 2014
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Putting commodity prices and the dollar into perspective

JOC%2Bcomponents.jpg
The chart above shows the Journal of Commerce Commodity Index, along with its major subcomponents. Each is indexed to 100 as of the date in late 2001 that commodity prices reached a multi-decade low. Oil and metals prices have both risen by about the same amount, whereas miscellaneous commodities (e.g., hides, rubber, tallow, plywood, red oak) have risen only modestly, and textiles have hardly risen at all. In aggregate, the commodity complex is still trading at relatively high levels compared to just over a decade ago.


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Shale Oil

October 13, 2014
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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-07/shale-boom-tested-as-sub-90-oil-threatens-u-s-drillers.html

Shale Boom Tested as Sub-$90 Oil Threatens U.S. Drillers By Isaac Arnsdorf Oct 8, 2014

Shale oil is expensive to extract by historical standards and only viable at high-enough prices, Ed Morse, Citigroup Inc.’s head of global commodities research in New York, said by phone Sept. 23. Oil from shale formations costs $50 to $100 a barrel to produce, compared with $10 to $25 a barrel for conventional supplies from the Middle East and North Africa, the Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates.

“There is probably something to the notion that if prices fell suddenly to $60 a barrel, the production growth would turn negative,” he said.

Brent crude could drop to $80 a barrel before triggering a slowdown in investment from U.S. shale-oil drillers, Fitch Ratings said in a report today.


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Steel production continues to fall

October 8, 2014
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Steel production falls this past week

October 3, 2014
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Steel production still looks like it has an improving trend but production down the last couple weeks

September 24, 2014
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Steel production moderates.

September 17, 2014
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We think in stories

September 11, 2014
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http://rpseawright.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/beguiled-by-narrative-2/

Beguiled By Narrative

Stories are culture’s way of teaching us what is important. They are what allow us to imagine what might happen next – and beyond – so as to prepare for it. We are hardwired to respond to story. A good story doesn’t feel like a story – it feels exactly like real life, but most decidedly is not like real life. It is simplified and otherwise altered. We prefer rhetorical grace and an emotional charge to the work of hard thought. Because we are inveterate simplifiers, we prefer clean and clear narrative to messy reality. A famous book by Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism, pretty well demolished the popular notion that history was a narrative, that it had a shape, a progression, and followed laws of development. But we believe that it does (or devoutly wish to believe that it does) anyway.

Still, because it feels so true (“It can’t be wrong when it feels so right”), it isn’t hyperbole to say you’ve been lost in a story. Story turns us into willing students, eager to learn the story’s message. It’s how we sift through the raw data of our lives to ascertain what matters. Our brains are designed to analyze the environment, pick out the important parts, and use those bits to extrapolate linearly and simplistically about and into the future.


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Weirdos…

September 11, 2014
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http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-09/the-case-for-recruiting-weirdos

Corporations Aren’t Recruiting Enough Weirdos

By Martin Davidson September 09, 2014

We need to expand our definition of diversity to include the weird—a group often maligned and avoided. These are people who appear to us as different, strange, and even offbeat; they just don’t fit in.

There is potency and innovativeness in certain kinds of weirdness that can help businesses thrive.

The key for leaders is to figure out how to support weird people so that they create—not destroy—value for the company. Some of these people have stifled their offbeat creativity out of social fear, camouflaging their true selves because they think it’s not appropriate at work to be as they really are. They leave essential parts of themselves at the office door.

Weirdness manifests itself in two ways. One involves people who act weird just to oppose the norm. I call that the “little w” in weird. Little w is all about “me.” It makes you feel good to be different, but you’re not contributing what you could—what is really needed. These weird people often have voracious egos.

In contrast, “big W” weird people oppose the norm, though not just for the sake of standing out. Rather, they are trying to see something or to achieve a larger goal, and they know that following a normal path won’t get them there. Often these folks are more humble than their “little w” brethren; they are just focused on getting a great result.


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