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Was Election the Cure-All You Were Hoping For?

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Are you more or less optimistic about prospects for the metals market in 2013 now that you know the outcome of the election? (I do not know the outcome, as I sit here a week prior to Election Day putting the finishing touches on this issue of MCN.)

How many times in the months leading up to the vote did you hear some executive say: “Due to all the uncertainty, we are putting our plans on hold until after the election,” or something to that effect. Perhaps his or her voice sounded exactly like your own. In my opinion, that wait-and-see attitude contributed to the very uncertainty at its core and only made the economy worse. Now that you know who will be the next president, do you suddenly have the clarity you were seeking? Of course not. Too many economic and political issues remain unresolved and will no doubt take more than one presidential term to sort out.

Sorting out what is likely to happen next year in the metals distribution sector is doable, however, by mustering the collective wisdom of Metal Center News readers. As it does every year, MCN plans to measure industry sentiment, along with a number of other benchmarks, as part of its annual Outlook Survey. Optimism among service center executives has been trending up, along with the economy, since 2009. The question is whether the slope of the line will get steeper or shallower following so closely on the heels of such an historic election.

Why is industry sentiment important? Because the more bullish the metals decision-makers, the more likely they are to hire more workers, invest in more inventory and increase their capital spending. The more likely they are to make ambitious plans that will help their companies, and our country, grow.

If you are reading this column, chances are you saw the Outlook questionnaire polybagged with the November issue. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and share your thoughts and forecasts for 2013. Or log on to and fill it out online. To compensate you for your time, MCN will make a $1 donation to the American Cancer Society. The results will be published in the January issue. Thank you for your support of this important project.

Perhaps what you learn from this survey of your peers will bring you some of the clarity you had hoped for from the election, and inspire you to new ambitions for 2013.