Economic Trends: Trade Deficit Down due to Shale Oil and Gas
1. The numbers. The international trade deficit on goods and services plunged $5.1B for November (sequentially), dropping from $39.3B in October to $34.3B for the latest month. Exports grew $1.7B for the month while imports contracted $3.4B.
2. Black gold! At the heart of this month’s decline in the revolutionary development on America’s shale oil and gas. The main source of the reduction in the trade gap was a 13.2% decline in the volume of monthly petroleum product imports (y/y = -6.4%). Furthermore, the average monthly per barrel price of these imports declined from $99.96 to $94.69. The corresponding value of oil product imports thus fell $5.4B. These are billions of dollars we are paying ourselves instead of other countries. Hooray!
3. Get to the point. This is the last “actual” trade data that will go in to Q4 GDP. (I.e., a guess will be made to plug in a figure for December.) It is now apparent that “net exports” will make a sizable addition to Q4 GDP -- maybe +$35B (annualized). That’s near a 0.9 percentage point contribution to growth (which will have forecasters lifting their Q4 estimates). Geez, exports could show 13% growth while imports are registering about a 2% rate of increase (AR).
4. Details, details. The biggest increase in exports came from civilian aircraft and engines (+$543M). Chemicals, finished metal shapes, and soybeans had $200M-ish rates of rise. Artwork, antiques, and stamps exports contracted $492B. On the import side, beyond the energy items, the most sizable reductions in imports came from pharmaceutical preparations (-$565M) and, ironically, artwork, antiques, and stamps (-$426M). The biggest rise of imports came from computers plus related accessories (+$1165M) and cell phones (+$740M). Regrettably, the deficit on “advanced technology products” remained huge; at a $9.3B deficit, it was just a smidgeon below the $9.8B gap the month before. Meanwhile, the monthly trade deficit with China decreased to $26.9B from $28.9B the month before.
5. Bottom line… A strong finish to 2013 provides a good segue to 2014!
EPA Issues Draft General Permit for Stormwater Discharges
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Industrial Sources, also referred to as the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). This action is intended to revise and renew the 2008 MSGP. In response to the draft MSGP, NASF submitted comments December 26, 2013 regarding its concerns about the draft MSGP and its potential impact on surface finishing operations.
Pursuant to the terms of the draft MSGP, surface finishing operations must develop a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) and implement available best management practices (BMPs) to control stormwater discharges at their facilities. Facilities are also required to sample stormwater discharges to determine if the benchmark values for pollutants have been exceeded. Facilities that exceed benchmark values must evaluate their BMPs and identify and implement additional BMPs for controlling stormwater discharges or prepare a feasibility report to show that all technically feasible BMPs have been implemented and further improvements are not feasible.
The problem with the draft MSGP is that the benchmark values that EPA uses for several metals and other pollutants are unrealistically low and do not represent levels that can be achieved in practice with the implementation of available BMPs. Consequently, surface finishing facilities will have to undertake unnecessary procedural steps to address exceedances of the benchmark values as part of the MSGP process. These efforts can be expensive to implement and can lead to other potential compliance and permitting impacts for their facilities. Specifically, the compliance costs for industrial operations are significantly more than EPA’s estimated annual compliance cost of approximately $2,000 to implement the requirements of the 2013 draft MSGP.
In its comments NASF argues that the benchmark values that EPA is using for stormwater discharges are unrealistically low and cannot be achieved in practice at surface finishing operations and urges EPA to reconsider the substantial costs and significant potential adverse impacts of the draft MSGP. EPA is expected to finalize the MSGP for stormwater discharges in Spring 2014. If you have any questions regarding EPA’s draft MSGP or the NASF comments, please contact Jeff Hannapel at email@example.com.
NASF Training & Education through the Foundation
The Foundation’s 2014 Course calendar is now available and posted on the Education section of the website. You may download the course catalog, or register for a course. Many of our most popular courses will be offered again in 2014 in both classroom and web-based format.
Just the Basics on Electroplating Web-based Course
Six 2-hour Sessions: February 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
Member Cost: $500
Non-Member Cost: $700
The first course offering is the newest AESF Foundation course – Just the Basics on Electroplating. This introductory course will benefit individuals without experience or training in the art and science involved in electroplating. These may include new hires for plating line work, inexperienced supervisors, sales personnel serving metal finishers, and those in management that want a non-technical/low-technical primer in the subject
This training course is also ideal to serve as an introductory course for individuals who intend to go on with more advanced training courses offered by the AESF Foundation. The goal is to provide more comfort with terminology, knowledge of coating differences, and proves equipment in conducting electroplating operations.
At the conclusion of this course the trainee will:
The lessons covered in this course include:
A downloadable description of the course content can be found at www.nasf.org.
Electroplating & Surface Finishing Part 1 Web-based Course
Eight 2-hour Sessions: March 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26
Member Cost: $615
Non-Member Cost: $800
This training program is designed to be beneficial to operators and supervisors of job shops and captive shops performing a broad range of surface finishes on a variety of substrates. It will also benefit sales personnel serving the metal finishing industry, as it will provide a level of knowledge about the processes that allow better understanding of the needs of their customers.
Students successfully completing the exam for Parts 1 and 2 of this course will be awarded the Certified Electroplater Finisher (CEF) credential, which is a requirement to attain Master surface Finisher (MSF) certification. The AESF Foundation can arrange for a proctor in your area to administer the exam.
Lessons Covered in this Course
1. Basic Chemistry for Electroplaters
2. Basics in Electricity for Electroplaters
3. Electrochemistry for the Surface Finisher
4. Barrel, Rack and Other Plating Technologies
5. Part Fabrication & Treatment
6. Metallic Corrosion
7. Use of Hull Cells & Other Plating Cells to Test Solutions
8. Optimizing Rinsing to Minimize Water Usage
9 Filtration, Agitation & Purification of Surface Finishing
10. Testing and Evaluation of Deposits
11. Preparing Metals for Plating
A detailed description of the course content can be found at www.nasf.org .
Steep Penalties Just Issued for Finishing Companies
Three Connecticut metal finishing companies and their operator were ordered in January to pay $743,500 for violating the state's hazardous waste and air pollution control laws and regulations (Esty v. Suraci Inc., Conn. Super. Ct., No. HHDCV 126029310S, order filed 12/24/13).
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen (D) said in a statement Jan. 3 that Suraci Inc., Suraci Metal Finishing LLC, Suraci Paint & Powder Coating LLC and Bruno F. Suraci were ordered to pay a civil penalty of $700,000 for violations of hazardous waste management statutes, a civil penalty of $33,500 for violations of air pollution control statutes and a $10,000 penalty for failure to obtain a Title V emissions permit. The state's order was filed Dec. 24 in Superior Court in Hartford.
The defendants operate metal finishing businesses at two locations in New Haven, including a facility adjacent to the Quinnipiac River, according to the state. Jepsen said the activities conducted at the New Haven locations produced hazardous waste and that the defendants failed to comply with laws regulating that waste, thereby exposing employees, the public and the environment to serious risks.
The state also alleged that the defendants completely failed to comply with air pollution control statutes intended to regulate emissions from equipment in operation at the sites.
“Hazardous waste violations are no small matter,” Jepsen said. “Failure to properly manage dangerous substances exposes the public and the environment to potential risks. This is a significant judgment and should serve as a warning that those who engage in this kind of conduct will be held responsible for their actions.”
The state alleged multiple violations in its amended complaint filed in January 2013, including improper storage and labeling, lack of proper state and federal permits, failure to conduct inspections, failure to separate incompatible waste materials and lack of proper employee training and certification.
NASF Washington Forum: April 8-10th
Expert election analyst Charlie Cook, tax policy maven Andy Friedman back again to keynote
Charlie Cook Talks 2014 Elections
The NASF is proud to present Charlie Cook as the Washinton Forum’s keynote speaker. A political analyst for NBC News, Charlie Cook applies his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, memorable stories, quick wit, and meaningful insights to deliver a dynamic speech.
Using poll numbers, economic indicators, and historical data, Cook will forecast the fortunes of each party in a balanced, nonpartisan manner and furnish the Washington Forum audience with the concrete information they need to hear about today’s political and legislative environments.
The New York Times has called Cook “one of the best political handicappers in the nation” and David Broder of the Washington Post has said Cook is “perhaps the best non-partisan tracker of Congressional races.”
In its feature, “The Top 50 Journalists in Washington,” The Washingtonian called him a “master observer” and the man who knows more about politics than anyone else.
The NASF again welcomes Andy Friedman, as a second keynote for the Washington Forum. An expert on political affairs, Andy is known for predicting the outcomes of Washington tax and fiscal deliberations and providing strategies for businesses and investors to consider in light of the changing political landscape. Andy was a senior partner with the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where he practiced for almost 30 years, serving as head of the tax and corporate groups.
Andy also served as tax counsel to Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League.
Andy appears on CNBC’s Squawk Box, which calls him “Wall Street’s Tax Expert.” He also has appeared on the Fox Business Channel, has been profiled in the Washington Post and Research
Magazine, and is quoted extensively in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today.
NASF Management Conference: February 23-27, 2014
Register is still open for the annual NASF Management Conference to be held February 23-27, 2014 at the Sheraton Maui on Kaanapali Beach. The event offers timely updates and the opportunity to engage with owners and executives from some of the most successful and influential companies in surface technology community.
The keynote for the event is Navy Seal Rob O'Neill, one of the most highly decorated combat veterans of our time. Having led military's top elite and with most of his career shrouded in a classified cloak, O'Neill is one of the quiet professionals who has performed extremely difficult tasks in difficult circumstances.
He brings unique expertise to organizations and translates his elite SEAL team training into high-impact, actionable insights on leadership, decision-making, operating in uncertain environments, and how to become the 'best of the best.' His mantra is "never quit," and O'Neill believes this is the single most important factor in determining success. A family man, O'Neill reminds us that the servicemen doing the dirtiest work are often making the hardest sacrifices.
We look forward to having you join us.