Feds tap NAM to gauge the coronavirus’ effects on manufacturers

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virus - photo courtesy Macau Photo Agency

As news about the coronavirus continues to dominate headlines, experts and prognosticators are predicting disruptions to manufacturing and supply chains that range from minimal to seismic.

Electronics manufacturers that would normally be stepping up new product development are facing a challenge they have never seen, according to Forbes.

Many multinational companies have suspended production, closed offices and shut retail outlets in China, according to The Wall Street Journal. In many cases, they have extended shutdowns scheduled for the Lunar New Year through next week.

Manufacturers of cars, computers, electrical components and in the transportation sector are all heavily dependent on China for components, according to National Public Radio.

The ones that would be affected first are those that rely on “just-in-time deliveries” by air; about half the air cargo coming from China typically comes from passenger planes that have been grounded to a halt.

In light of widespread uncertainty, the Federal Reserve has tapped the National Association of Manufacturers to help assess how the virus, which was declared “a public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organization, will ultimately impact U.S. manufacturing.

“Like many manufacturers, I am consistently asked about the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on manufacturers,” said NAM president Chad Moutray in an email to members Thursday. “Officials continue to stress that the risk in the United States is low, but we do know that the disruptions in other markets and to supply chains could be significant.”

The Fed is specially interested to learn about possible disruptions in production or other areas of operation, and how manufacturers might be altering business or contingency plans related to their production processes or strategic outlook, wrote Moutray.

Manufacturers that want to share stories of how they are affected with federal officials can do so confidentially via a specific inbox, responseteam@nam.org.

The Federal Reserve has said that it will use the information for internal purposes only as it works to assess the true effect of the outbreak on manufacturing and the macroeconomy, wrote Moutray.

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