James S. Bernier
Executive Vice President, PNC
Senior International Economist
Managing Director, Derivative Products Group
PNC Perspectives on the Market
Get a jumpstart on financial planning for the second half of the year. Learn Now »
Business Succession Planning with an ESOP
Business succession planning is a dynamic process that can address a full spectrum of issues from your personal financial needs to your company’s long-term viability. Read Now »
Short Term Interest Rate Increases and Effects
How will this affect the U.S. Treasury Yield Curve
This webinar will discuss how short term interest rate increases may affect the U.S. Treasury Curve, how to manage impact of rising rates, and plans to mitigate company exposure.
Global economic highlights as of December 10th
Insight into international trends for November 13th
Insight into the Chinese economy
Economic statistics including jobs, consumer sentiment and Fed funds rates for November 30th
Economic statistics including jobs, consumer sentiment and Fed funds rates for November 19th
Business succession planning is a dynamic process that can address a full spectrum of issues from your personal financial needs to your company’s long-term viability.
A strong planning framework will assess the health of your business, provide adequate planning time and equip you with the right information to develop a favorable transition or exit plan.
Monthly key market and economic observations
With many banks still wary of investing in growing companies, ABL can provide strategic support with plans for growth, plus mergers, acquisitions and general refinancing.
With many banks still wary of investing in growing companies, ABL can help with short- and long-term capital needs. It offers companies strategic support with their plans for growth, plus mergers, acquisitions and general refinancing.
Get a jumpstart on financial planning for the second half of the year.
Market volatility. Tax reform. Interest rates. The economy has dramatically captured the headlines in 2018. Watch this exclusive webinar featuring PNC economic and investment strategists to hear their perspectives on the financial markets.
Economic reports and exchange rate forecasts for the current quarter
Insight into national and regional trends for July
Insight into national and regional trends for October
Strategists examine challenges and opportunities for the current quarter
Many U.S. companies with operations based in Britain wonder how Brexit will affect them.
With Brexit, seamless free trade access through Britain will end, and U.S. companies will need to establish new operations and offices in other EU countries. What’s more, as U.S. companies follow the Brexit process, many find they have new exposure to risks brought on by the upcoming separation.
PNC economist Gus Faucher believes that the U.S. economy is on solid footing in 2018, and growth will get a boost from expected cuts to corporate and personal income taxes.
Optimism among business owners and leaders remains high, but has shifted significantly to a more moderate level according to the PNC Economic Outlook, a biannual telephone survey of small and medium-sized business owners ($500 million and under), which began in 2003.
Strategists examine challenges and opportunities for January
Economic reports and exchange rate forecasts from the previous quarter
Strategists examine challenges and opportunities for February
Companies with lower engagement scores tend to have a sizable engagement gender gap.
As they take on more responsibility and have more direct interaction with senior executives, employees tend to develop a greater emotional commitment to the organization and its goals. But researchers have found companies with lower overall engagement scores tend to have a sizable engagement gender gap among employees in senior positions.
The internal experience can help you find and retain qualified candidates.
The U.S. unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2000, and the shortage of skilled workers has seldom been so severe. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are struggling to find workers to replace them. ManpowerGroup found that 40% of global companies report having difficulty finding qualified candidates.
Insight into the Indian economy
Make targeted hires who are recognized leaders in their discipline or industry.
Digital transformation requires technical staff with more advanced skills and multidisciplinary experience to understand the digital needs of the business at a deeper level. Technical staff must know and understand legacy IT systems and be able to creatively undertake the challenges inherent in digital conversion.
Insight into the Canadian economy
Canada is back on track. After real GDP growth of less than 2% in 2015 and 2016, it looks set to pick up to around 2.5% this year and next. A Bank of Canada survey showed the share of businesses planning to increase capital spending was nearly the largest in a decade.
The trend toward wind, solar and other renewables has taken hold.
Despite potential obstacles, the renewable energy industry has gained significant momentum, to the point where it has eroded coal’s share of the electricity-generation market. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the share of U.S. electricity generated by renewable energy sources, not including hydropower, steadily grew to 15% in 2016 from 10% in 2010.
Insight into the Brazilian economy
This year, more workers may be tempted to explore other career opportunities.
Many workers, especially millennials, don’t want to be managed in a traditional way. They want coaches who help them develop professionally and leaders who challenge and engage them. They want the flexibility to work from home and determine their schedules. Many want opportunities to pursue their passions and engage their creativity.
Insight into the Australian economy
RPA software programs mimic the keystrokes humans make to complete rote processes.
RPA software sits on top of legacy information technology systems or more complex intelligent automation applications. Because it’s less complex, RPA is easy to implement for fast returns in efficiency and cost savings. It can be integrated smoothly with legacy systems for enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and business process management.
The Internet of Things links devices and people, often without human intervention.
The Internet of Things generates data to improve operations and anticipate actions. Sensors, software, the cloud, computers and other devices can seamlessly merge physical and digital technology for greater efficiency, improved service and better process management.
Savvy companies understand that employees arecustomers too.
Researchers have learned it is profitable to view the overall employee experience in relation to the overall customer experience. Consulting firm Aon Hewitt found organizations ranking high on employee engagement realize a 4% increase in sales growth and a 2% increase in operating margin.
Noncompete agreements can dissuade employees from going to work for a competitor.
Proprietary knowledge is critical to business success and companies go to great lengths to protect intellectual property and trade secrets. For instance, many companies require employees to sign noncompete agreements upon their hiring to protect intellectual property from exiting the firm if the employee decides to leave.
“3-D printing,” is being adopted by many industries, from aerospace to chocolate.
Some economists view the rise of 3-D printing as a new industrial revolution. It can significantly cut the time to test and develop new products, speed delivery of custom parts and components, allow a higher degree of customization, and aid in refining prototypes for new, more complex products and designs.
Companies like Amazon and Google set the tone for customer experience standards.
This customer-centric approach is driven in large part by digital technology and social media that have empowered customers and changed the rules for purchasing goods and services. For example, researchers have found 75% of online customers expect service within five minutes of making contact with any vendor or supplier.
Employers must merge full-time, part-time and contingent workers into a cohesive team.
Growing ranks of contingent workers include consultants, freelancers, independent contractors, agency temps, day laborers and the self employed. individuals. These workers are not regular employees of a business but are engaged on an interim basis. They do not qualify for full-time work schedules, regular wages or company benefits.
Customers are open to using electronic and artificial intelligence (AI) applications.
Chatbots are increasingly being used to augment customer service. These technology applications use AI to process language, enabling them to understand human speech. They can decipher verbal or written questions and provide responses with appropriate information or direction. Many customers first experienced chatbots through dialogue boxes on company websites.
The team needs to be clear about the objectives and their roles in creating success.
To ensure the success of an innovation team, it’s best to go beyond professional credentials alone and consider drawing from a wide mix of personalities, experiences and skills. With roles and responsibilities clearly defined, innovation teams can bring about changes that profit their organizations.
Many employees and managers agree that annual reviews don’t fit today’s workplace.
Some analysts estimate that more than one-third of U.S. companies have thrown out the traditional annual performance review altogether. These businesses are experimenting with dropping traditional employee rating systems and replacing annual reviews with other ways to evaluate and reward performance.
Large companies and municipalities are utilizing these bonds.
A CAT bond is a high-yield debt instrument intended to provide funds in case of a specified natural disaster. These insurance-linked securities can be used to distribute risk from natural events across a wider scope. Pricing is based on CAT modeling that analyzes potential exposure to weather and other catastrophes.
Operations and supply chains can be disrupted any time from anywhere in the world.
Business continuity and disaster recovery plans can serve as the first response in the wake of a disruptive event. A well-documented business continuity plan can help organizations anticipate likely scenarios, outline response actions and react rapidly, thus increasing the likelihood of resuming normal operations quickly and with the least interruption.
Seven trends are altering the $3.2 trillion healthcare sector in new ways.
Projections show positive signs of economic stability, yet a degree of uncertainty lingers with some corporate executives. Additional interest rate hikes are widely expected in 2016, and the U.S. dollar continues to be strong against major world currencies, both of which could increase borrowing costs and reduce revenues.
Gender bias exists in hiring, performance reviews and opportunities for advancement.
Although both women and men struggle to balance work and family commitments, the majority of childcare, caregiving and household responsibilities fall to women. Pulled in two directions, many women are at a disadvantage in the workplace compared to their male peers.
States target unclaimed property to gain revenue to address their budget shortfalls.
Unclaimed property held by a company may include unclaimed payroll checks, outstanding vendor checks, supplier credits, accounts receivable credits, gift cards, rebates and customer deposits. It also may include abandoned bank accounts or stock trading accounts, unpaid insurance claim payouts, unclaimed pension benefits, and real property.
A sound security plan can protect access, safeguard company data and mitigate risks.
IT security experts note that cloud servers face many of the same threats as in-house servers, as well as some additional risks. These include data breaches, shared vulnerability attacks, malicious insider threats, denial of service (DoS) attacks and data loss.
Outsourcing enables company executives to remain focused on their core businesses.
Outsourcing remains attractive for many companies because it offers several advantages in addition to cost savings, particularly in addressing talent gaps and shortages, exploiting Big Data capabilities and implementing new technology quickly. Yet many companies struggle to transition their IT and noncore operations effectively to an outsourcing model.
It’s getting easier to digitally market products and services to customers.
To remain competitive in today’s market, companies need to provide customers with mobile access to their products and services. Apps can simplify online and mobile purchases and help consumers find useful product information. An app that is easy to use can increase order quantities and improve customer loyalty and engagement.
Longer duration debt may cost more, but it can help you
weather an economic downturn.
External factors impacting companies’ businesses and balance sheets can create a mismatch of assets and liabilities, if the latter come due too quickly. So the extra time provided by longer maturities can help companies through rough patches.
Industries face digital disruption due to fast adoption of mobile devices and apps.
Companies in the media, telecommunications, consumer financial services, retail and technology industries are the first being affected by digital disruption. But nearly every other industry will soon be impacted by new digital technologies that challenge their business strategies and how they interact with their customers.
New SaaS companies are relying on expensive financing around such as venture capital.
SaaS companies can lack the key measuring sticks that banks use to determine creditworthiness, namely inventory and receivables. Their inventory tends to be cloud-based and therefore a nontangible asset, and receivables are subscription-based and often amortized.
Honesty and transparency between lender and the borrower can deliver good outcomes.
Sometimes unflattering information such as shareholder lawsuits, past criminal activity, asset impairment, etc. are held back. This approach can affect your credibility and that of your management team.
Insight into the Japanese economy
Intrinsic rewards motivate knowledge workers' creative thinking and risk taking.
It seems logical to pay incentives to employees for innovation in product development and research. However, behavioral economists have found that the opposite is true with knowledge workers such as software engineers, product developers, data analysts and consultants whose jobs are to develop original ideas and applications.
Technological innovation can improve the match of skilled workers to labor needs.
As more companies turn to digital labor platforms, global labor markets will draw in more workers and begin to optimize human resources processes and efficiencies. By 2025, $2.7 trillion could be added to global gross domestic product from digital labor platforms and employment could potentially increase by 72 million full-time equivalent positions.
Blockchain is a decentralized electronic ledger that grows as data is added.
Blockchain uses cryptography to enable each user to add to the ledger in a secure way. As a new transaction occurs, both parties must verify its authenticity by consensus before it is recorded in a block. This eliminates the need for a central authority to monitor and validate transactions, instead relying on the consensus of the participants.
The buying habits of the world’s population are undergoing a major shift.
Companies may need to rethink their business models. Future success will be built on an approach, where growth is based on per capita spending rather than on increasing the number of customers, and products and services appeal more to the needs of urban populations and new age groups.Companies also need to consider how they can add or expand services.
Successful innovators share certain traits that make success more likely.
This in-depth research found that inventive companies tend to possess eight essential qualities in varying degrees that form an “operating system” for successful, sustainable innovation. Here’s a summary of those traits.
Insight into the Mexican economy
A variety of changes and challenges are affecting the ability and willingness of middle-market companies to finance new initiatives.
One of the troubling uncertainties is whether the Federal Reserve will continue to increase short- term interest rates throughout 2016. Rising rates will affect borrowers’ cost of capital and likely reduce their demand for funding.
Rapid advancements in technology have fueled faster change.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen describes disruption as the process in which a smaller company with limited resources successfully challenges more established and larger industry leaders. He notes that disruption “displaces an existing market, industry or technology and produces something new, more efficient and worthwhile
Millennials need the right work environment to become a high-performing generation.
Millennials want to be challenged as they progress through their careers, and that usually plays out in mobility — the average tenure of Millennials is two years. Many are not willing to hang around if they feel their job offers little personal growth or career benefit. Instead, they are unafraid to strike out for better opportunities.
Insight into European zone trends
You could deploy more and/or better revenue-producing equipment in service this year?
The Section 179 deduction can allow businesses of certain sizes (subject to specific limitations) to deduct up front, rather than depreciate over a number of years, the cost of equipment such as computers, vehicles, manufacturing equipment, farm machinery, office furniture, etc. Combined with the benefits of bonus depreciation and the incentive to acquire equipment and stay on the cutting edge of technology by continuing to buy equipment, this deduction can have a positive impact on your flexibility and growth.
Participation in the syndicated loan market was down 6% in 2015 compared to 2014.
Thomson Reuters reports that most of the new money supported M&A transactions, reaching an all-time record of $546 billion. Corporates borrowed $211 billion, and private-equity sponsors borrowed $120 billion. Investment-grade lending increased by 4%. Factors include high acquisition prices that took private-equity sponsors out of the market.
Data integrity can be compromised through cyber threats that manipulate data.
Quiet, insidious attacks may come in the form of planted malware or selective hacks that seize, modify or delete data or transactions in ways that benefit the perpetrators. For example, an attack could change a bank account’s direct deposit setting to channel deposits to another account.
2016 revenues are expected to increase in 16 manufacturing industries.
Projections show positive signs of economic stability, yet a degree of uncertainty lingers with some corporate executives. Additional interest rate hikes are widely expected in 2016, and the U.S. dollar continues to be strong against major world currencies, both of which could increase borrowing costs and reduce revenues
Workplace wellness programs: What's the real ROI?
Employee wellness programs are a $6 billion industry in the United States. These programs have been touted for helping employees improve their health and prevent disease while lowering healthcare costs. Approximately 50% of all companies with 50 or more employees now offer wellness programs.
Indirect taxes are based on trade flows and transactions.
Because each country uses a unique mix of indirect taxes, companies are challenged to stay on top of tax requirements and liabilities. Government tax administrators may change their policies and rates very quickly in response to economic needs, and they expect international companies to respond immediately or face penalties.
Mobile wallet is a consumer-to-business payment technology that has become better known since the release of Apple’s iPhone 6/6 Plus and the Apple Pay™ mobile wallet.
A combination of the desire to reduce card fraud and the popularity of smartphones has led to the emergence of “mobile wallet” solutions for point-of-sale (POS) payments. However, the payments industry remains in the midst of the “mobile wallet wars,” as market entrants battle it out to see which technology approach and provider or providers will carry the day.
Challenges need to be addressed as the Internet of Things transforms our world.
We are in the early stages of transforming into an interconnected world of people and machines. Yet growth has been rapid, fed by the availability of broadband technology and the decreasing cost of connecting devices through the Internet. More equipment and devices are being designed and built with sensors and Wi-Fi capabilities and smartphone use continues to surge.
Corporate leaders are now viewing machines as talent to be fostered.
Human-machine collaboration allows humans and machines to combine their strengths and compensate for each other’s limitations, leading to better outcomes. Intelligent machines can be partners that learn and improve their skills and abilities as they work alongside human workers. Meanwhile, advanced technology is extending human capabilities.
A shift to a circular supply chain can keep limited materials in use longer.
Most manufacturers use a linear supply chain that extracts raw materials, manufactures products and distributes them to customers. At the end of the products’ service life, little is done to recycle and re-use materials. However, as commodity prices continue to rise, many companies are beginning to re-think this traditional linear model.
It's no longer science fiction to use your palm or retina to verify your identity.
The use of biometric authentication is being accepted internationally, largely due to the adoption of smartphones. Technology research firm Gartner estimates that 50% of consumers in established markets will use smartphones or wearables for mobile payments by 2018, and analysts have forecasted that by 2024 biometric methods will be used to verify all online transactions.
Companies are evaluating the impact of increased interest rates on global trade.
The U.S. dollar strengthened throughout 2015 in anticipation of higher interest rates and stronger economic growth. Advanced and stable economies such as Europe, Japan and India welcomed the Fed’s move, but many emerging markets are struggling with the impact of the rate hike.
Millennials may lack the skills needed to meet today's global challenges.
The demand for advanced knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is projected to explode in the next few years. At the same time, 38% of global manufacturers report difficulties in filling vacancies for skilled trades. Even college-educated Millennials often lack the technical and soft skills required for 21st-century careers.
Back to the Future: Global market unease
Global markets have had a tumultuous start thus far in the first few trading days of 2016, with a number of factors affecting market sentiment, triggering global equity markets to sell off. In the United States, the S&P 500® had its sixth - worst first trading day of the new year performance on Monday since 1928 (-1.53%).
Insight into the British economy
The TPP trade deal is the largest in history and covers 40% of the world economy.
TPP nations pose stiff tariffs and export barriers on U.S. goods and services. Passage of the TPP would phase out these barriers for more than 11,000 categories. Critics fear increased outsourcing of U.S. jobs and threats to legal protections. The hope is that passage of the TPP will improve U.S. competitiveness and help develop new markets.
Integrated teams of in-house staff and freelancers can work well together.
Many employers were initially suspicious of workers’ requests for greater flexibility, but the bet has paid off. A recent study found that some form of telework is offered by 88% of surveyed organizations, 82% offer flexible work hours, and 81% support part-time schedules.
Recent worldwide sluggish growth has tempered enthusiasm for global connectivity.
As an after-effect of the global recession, world trade is expected to increase only 3.3% in 2015 and 4.0% in 2016, still below the annual average growth of 5.1% since 1990. Prolonged sluggish growth in GDP, especially in the high-income countries, has been cited as the main reason for this slow recovery in trade.
The goal is to create “smart factories” that improve productivity and profitability.
Manufacturers of all sizes, all over the world, are being affected by this paradigm shift. Myriad stakeholders — manufacturers, suppliers, technology companies, universities, government agencies and laboratories — are working to seamlessly link intelligent machines, advanced analytics and workers in the next generation of manufacturing processes.
From soaring market volatility to an increasingly complex regulatory environment, the challenges confronting institutional asset owners have never been greater.
It comes as no surprise that many pension plans, endowments, foundations and other investors are searching for new ways to achieve their investment objectives while controlling risk and keeping costs down.
Whether you use EFT or Virtual Cards, electronic payments can get funds to providers quicker, at a lower cost and with less risk than paper checks.
Like many other sectors, the healthcare industry is continually looking for ways to improve efficiency and productivity. Electronic payments can support these goals by reducing costs, improving payments accuracy (resulting in fewer disputes) and optimizing working capital.
Business leaders must be flexible and responsive in navigating increased volatility while remaining focused on their organizations’ long-term
With change accelerating faster than ever before in human history, four major global disruptions are occurring that will have significant impact on businesses. Although these trends have been well-documented, what is not well-understood is the full extent of their impact or the collective effect of these trends as they collide and merge.
The explosion of the Internet, social media, technology devices and apps is creating a tsunami of data. The challenge for businesses is how to make the best use of the information.
Big data is being used to better understand consumer habits, target marketing campaigns, improve operational efficiency, lower costs, and reduce risk. International Data Corporation (IDC), a global provider of market intelligence and information technology advisory services, estimates that the global big data and analytics market will reach $125 billion in 2015.
Private equity firms have capital and corporate buyers have access to low-cost funding. It’s a sellers’ market for middle-market companies as baby boomer owners get ready to retire.
The market for middle-market acquisitions remains hot by historical measures, although it’s showing signs of cooling. The Lead Left, a capital markets newsletter focused on the middle-market space, reports that private equity funding fell in 2014 from the year before. Assuming the critical issues around monetizing a business have been addressed, why wait any longer?
The discipline that guided companies through leaner times should remain central to prudent T&E expense control as business travel picks up in response to increased sales.
With business activity increasing, it can be easy to let cost containment policies slacken. This is especially true for travel and entertainment expense policies, as business travel picks up in response to increased sales, hiring and training activities.
Integrated payables or “payables outsourcing” enables a business to send instructions for initiating multiple payment types to its bank in a single, consolidated file.
Integrated payables allows for end-to-end automation of the payables process. You can receive back from your bank acknowledgments, confirmations and information reporting online or via secure file transmission. Integrated payables also facilitate migration from paper check disbursements to electronic payment alternatives.
Company growth often hinges on having the right talent in place and building bench strength. Many companies have found it smart to develop leaders at all levels of the organization.
Millennials are much more likely to job hop than Baby Boomers, who changed jobs infrequently throughout their careers. On average, Millennials change jobs every two years. As a result, moving forward, a human capital strategy that engages, recognizes, develops and retains talented employees will be critical to business success.
U.S. employers are having a hard time finding qualified workers. Many jobs now require technical knowledge and specialized skills that prospective employees simply don’t have.
Unfilled positions can be costly. The impact ripples through to lost production, poor customer service, delivery time delays, inferior work quality, low morale and higher turnover among those carrying heavier workloads. Business leaders and academics are rallying to address the skills gap with government program and a renewed focus on workplace development.
The business model for healthcare is reflecting changes driven by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), emphasis on cost containment, value, increased innovation and new technologies.
New care delivery options, robotics, remote monitoring, the use of big data, value-based models, the rise of health consumerism and an evolving healthcare workforce will transform the face of healthcare in the next 10 to 15 years.
Over the past eight years, we’ve seen more than a doubling in U.S. commercial card usage, which includes purchasing and corporate cards, along with small business card spending.
Growing business confidence and the improved outlook for the economy has led to increased travel and entertainment budgets to support traveling employees and sales executives. As these budgets grow, companies such as yours need to closely control their increased spending — another one of the many reasons for implementing comprehensive corporate card platforms.
One of the legacies of the financial crisis is that companies are increasingly focused on managing working capital. Supply chain finance programs can boost working capital metrics.
With supply chain finance, a buyer can enable its supplier to get paid faster while receiving financing from the buyer’s bank at the buyer’s lower cost of funding. In turn, the buyer can negotiate extended terms or a discount on the invoice. The buyer’s ability to extend terms with the supplier can help drive working capital metrics to new heights.
How significant are the economic problems in Cyprus?
Cyprus is a small country that has been getting a lot of press lately regarding its ongoing economic problems. Its banking sector was significantly overloaded, forcing the country to seek bailout assistance, which was agreed to by the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under a deal struck in March.