Are We There Yet?

Stimulus Bill Clears Hurdle in Senate
“Senate Democrats on Monday advanced the $827 billion economic stimulus bill, clearing a major procedural hurdle by a razor thin margin with the help of just three Republicans. A vote on final passage of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

“The Senate vote, by 61 to 36, to close debate on the stimulus, symbolized the partisanship that still grips Congress despite President Obama’s call for new cooperation.”

Building America’s Future
… is a new coaltion, that states on the opening page of its website, “Our primary job is quite simply to bring people together from all sides, and to create an environment where infrastructure funding is treated like the national priority it should be.”

If you’re in construction you know and understand why state-of-the-art infrastructure is critical to a country and its long-term growth. China recognized this need when it emerged from behind the Great Wall and focused its energies on becoming a world economic power. The first thing it did was invest in an integrated infrastructure.

We are at a serious disadvantage because our infrastructure is not integrated. It’s the result of responding to existing needs without looking to the future. Our infrastructure is not only important, it is vital to our continued long-term existence. It’s pitiful that the world’s leader could slip to the status of being a third-world country.

“As Washington debates an economic stimulus package to head off the recent downturn in the economy, we should all be reminded of the types of long-term infrastructure investments that led to America’s unprecedented growth in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. These investments not only created jobs, they built a foundation for future economic prosperity. Infrastructure isn’t cheap. But given how vital it is to the country’s economy, the choice is between continuing to rely on aging infrastructure or to aggressively invest for the next generation.”

“Unfortunately, today, America’s investment in infrastructure pales in comparison to the investments made by other countries across the globe. China spends almost four times what we do as a share of their total economy; India spends three times as much. And it is not just developing countries that are stepping up to meet their nations’ demands for infrastructure.”

The House is supposed to vote on Tuesday. It would seem that we would have a bill. The questions are: What will we do with it? How will we handle it? Will we squander all this money and accomplish little or nothing? Or, are we going to hold congress, and ourselves responsible for how these billions are used? We’d better.

More new from the World of Concrete…
Volvo Construction Equipment reported a 5% sales increase for 2008 despite a negative fourth quarter. The company announced that it delivered 64,000 units in 2008, a similar figure to 2007 but resulting in an increase in net sales of 5%. These full year figures came in the face of a negative fourth quarter, which saw global financial uncertainty push Volvo CE sales down 29% in the period and the total world market down by 39%. Sharply declining sales, production cutbacks and higher raw material costs all contributed to the loss.

Responding to the difficult trading conditions, Volvo CE has implemented a comprehensive plan to improve efficiency. In order to reduce inventory levels the company has cut production output in all its factories. These efforts to decrease the number of new products in inventories have been successful, with a 19% reduction since October and a further 20% reduction expected in the first quarter of 2009. The slowdown in production capacity has also unfortunately led to the company issuing notices of termination to 3,400 employees.

Despite the tough trading conditions, the company has continued to gain market share in most of its markets and product segments during the quarter, thanks to a strong dealer network and product range.

The North American market was down 34% in the fourth quarter of 2008, while Europe fell 49%, Asia reduced by 38% and other international markets fell by 28%. For the full year 2008, the total world market for construction equipment declined by 11%.

The outlook for 2009 is uncertain, but is expected to remain weak. The European market is set to decline in the range of 30-40%. North America is forecast to decline between 10-20% while the rest of the world is likely to be down 30%.

ASV Is Branded Terex ASV
Terex Construction introduced a dedicated compact equipment line, distributed throughout North America. The compact equipment line includes both Terex-branded compact track loaders, featuring the ASV patented Posi-Track undercarriage technology, and a broad portfolio of offerings from Terex, including compact excavators, compact wheel loaders, site dumpers, tractor loader backhoes, light towers, telehandlers, power buggies, and tandem asphalt rollers. As of January 1, 2009, all current ASV products will also be branded “Terex” and will join the North American Terex compact equipment line.

(Thanks to Construction Equipment magazine for the video)

The product line includes the Terex ASV PT 30 Compact Track Loader, the PT 60, PT 80, PT 100F and the utility vehicle that is designated the Terex ASV ST 50 Scout.

Greg Sitek

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