The honorary treasurer of BVL always stands up when he presents his financial report. His – perhaps tongue-in-cheek – explanation is that he does this “out of respect for the figures”. And the finances of the association are generally in good health, unlike the numbers for the Logistics Indicator for Q3. The findings of the August poll collated by the ifo Institute from the responses of 4,000 managers in our sector paint a less-than-optimistic picture this time around. Although the assessments for the current business situation are still on the expansive side, the business climate index has fallen below the neutral 100 line for the first time in six years. The reason for this is that expectations are in the contractive range among both providers of logistics services and the users of these services. Such unanimity is a rate occurrence. The curve looks like it did before the big crisis of 2008/2009 – just not as steep. This inconvenient truth also deserves to be respected, and this is something I am happy to do. What we need to do now is to actively engage the reality we see before us.
We are all rather non-plussed in the face of this economic situation, chiefly because there’s apparently very little we ourselves can do to counter the downtrend. The trade conflicts have intensified, and the prospects for an orderly Brexit have not improved. The likely worst-case scenarios are fuelled by the following factors: there is the threat of US import restrictions on vehicles and vehicle components from November, and sales volumes and incoming orders in some parts of the industry are already noticeably down on the same time last year. Employment levels are still rising – albeit at a slower pace – and the skill shortage continues to put the brakes on economic growth.
The political class is also less than helpful in some areas: premature calls for economic stimulus programmes on the one hand and debates over wealth tax and rent caps on the other are creating uncertainty among entrepreneurs and investors. At the same time, construction – which like private consumption is one of the pillars of the domestic economy – is being stalled by proposals that are driven more by electioneering than anything else.
At the International Supply Chain Conference 2019 in Berlin in six weeks’ time, we will have the opportunity to talk about the state of the economy, the forecasts for the future and how we intend to address the challenges ahead. The theme for the conference is “Inspire – Encourage – Act”, and I am confident that we will inspire and encourage each other with a whole range of favourable facts and figures from the logistics sector. A recent survey of BVL members shows that, when it comes to the working sphere, “Inspire – Encourage – Act” encompasses topics like self-image and self-assurance, a willingness to take risks, assertiveness, positive error management and motivational leadership – also and in particular in economically challenging times. We see again and again that success depends on courage. And courage is a combination of self-assurance and decisiveness – an effective antidote to despondency and self-fulfilling prophecies.
I look forward to seeing you at the conference in Berlin from October 23 to 25.