By every measure, 2021 was a fantastic recovery year for manufacturing. Total revenues for the IW U.S. 500 list of publicly traded manufacturing companies were up $1.3 trillion, and profits were up more than $541 billion. Nearly 90% of manufacturers on the list were profitable last year compared to 73% in 2020.
Inflation, a massive problem for a consumers, was very good to certain manufacturers, driving profits up sharply in metals, petroleum and wood products – the building blocks of the manufacturing world.
All that said, 2021 ended months ago, and the world’s economy outlook has shifted. Inflation, already high last year, jumped sharply in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that ongoing war could ripple through global economies for the foreseeable future with concerns rising for grain and food availability in the coming months.
In this video, IndustryWeek Editor-in-Chief Robert Schoenberger discusses the IW U.S. 500, and Senior Editor-at-Large Geert De Lombaerde shares insights from recent conversations with economists on where things could be going.
The heady optimism that many CEOs expressed early in the year has turned to a rising concern for the possibility of a recession as inflation remains at record levels. More CEOs continue to express optimism than pessimism, but concern levels continue to rise.