Metals Industry Seeks Path Through Coronavirus
One of the perils of publishing a monthly magazine is the possibility that what you wrote at deadline will become obsolete by the time anyone reads it. That a new development will take place in the span between when you went to press and when the issue arrives at your reader’s desk, thoroughly upending the previous assessment. Typically for us, nothing’s more irritating than when our view of the future is immediately rebuked by your existence in the present.
It’s why, by and large, Metal Center News prefers to deliver information with a slightly longer shelf life. Digging into the ins and outs of daily metals pricing, for instance, would be foolhardy for an enterprise such as ours. It’s better to leave such work to our friends at Steel Market Update, authors of this month’s Business Topics column.
But elsewhere this month, we’re tempting fate with our cover story and inside features on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. As quickly as the story was enveloping the world, ignoring the issue was simply not an option. Of course, at the rate of change, what we’re reporting now very well could be very dated come April.
The speed in which the coronavirus threat took over is obvious from one feature in this issue. At the early-March FMA Annual Meeting, views were mixed about the ultimate effects of the virus on the domestic industrial economy. John Anton of IHS sounded a rather dire alarm, but his was almost the lone voice warning how severe conditions would become. By the tail end of March, when we were putting the finishing touches on this issue, it was obvious that even he didn’t anticipate the potential for disruption to the U.S. and global economy.
By month’s end, phrases that we had never heard before such as “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” had become routine parts of our daily vocabulary.
Even if those measures work to deter the spread of the virus, the advice offered in our cover feature will still be quite relevant. When the nation begins to crawl out of self-imposed exile and embark on the process of rebuilding, chances are that service center companies will still need to guard against the still-lingering virus, the curve flattened to give our health care system a better chance to handle the spread. Or, in the worst case scenario, this isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event and the lessons we learn now are recyclable.
Whether COVID-19 is devastating and long-lasting enough to tip the U.S. and the rest of the world into recession remains to be seen. We join all of you in hoping it doesn’t. I would like nothing more than to look back at this issue six or 12 months from now and kicking myself for devoting so much attention to the subject.
Until then, stay safe.