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The Perfect Storm: How a Potential Economic Recession and the Supply Chain Bullwhip Are Colliding

bullwhip 2017 saw more shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

The Perfect Storm: How a Potential Economic Recession and the Supply Chain Bullwhip Are Colliding

The impacts of the supply chain bullwhip and brewing economic recession have recently come to a head. As the economy has stretched its legs from the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain issues continue and are exacerbated by ongoing economic challenges. A combination of inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes, and supply chain problems could spell disaster for shipping markets and companies involved in logistics. This article will look at the so-called “bullwhip effect,” its origins, and how it’s creating a perfect storm with the potential economic recession.

What is the ‘bullwhip effect?’

The bullwhip effect is a type of economic scenario where minimal changes in supply chain demand cause increasingly large demand changes as they move up the supply chain. The term references the effect generated when a whip is cracked, and the subsequent wave generated down the whip becomes larger as it moves towards its end.

Bullwhips are generated at the retail level first, then move from retailers to wholesalers and then up to manufacturers. Typically, consumer demand for goods (real or predicted) changes; then, in conjunction with a lack of information on demand, wholesalers will increase their orders, and manufacturers will change their production by an even larger amount.

Unfortunately, supply chains are not perfect, and as a result, they suffer from inefficiencies. The bullwhip effect amplifies these inefficiencies and can result in several different problems. Ultimately, it can mean inflated inventories, lost revenue, poor customer service, schedule delays, and even larger economic problems like layoffs and bankruptcies.

Why are we experiencing a supply chain bullwhip?

Supply chain bullwhips don’t just happen overnight; they take time to build up as different sections in the supply chain adjust to changing demand pressures. That being said, the most recent bullwhip originated from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Measuring container shipments over time can give us an idea of how the issue has evolved. Before Covid-19, the ratio of containers per shipment was relatively static; however, in the summer of 2020, the container-to-shipment ratio bubbled. So-called Big Box retailers (like Walmart and Target) used their leverage to increase the number of containers in their already scheduled shipments. Comparatively, smaller importers kept a more static ratio due to difficulty securing additional container capacity. 

Continuing economic trends worsen the supply chain

As you probably recall, the economic shutdown in April 2020 essentially brought global supply chains to a halt. The subsequent uptick in the container-to-shipment ratio was an effort by retailers to resupply dwindling inventories. One way to track these inventories is using tools like Visualping, which monitor websites for changes (like product availability) and can email you when a web page is changed or updated.

These trends continued until the end of 2021 when Big Box retailers returned to pre-Covid ratios. One theory is that they believed they had generated sufficient inventory to handle consumer demand. Through the end of 2021, consumer demand remained stable, and, normally, the bullwhip effect would have slowly resolved itself as retailers worked their way through their excess inventories over time. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 upended everything.

The real effects of oversupply and dwindling demand

In response, food prices began to surge, and out-of-control inflation set in, resulting in price surges that hadn’t been since the 80s. With inflation rising, consumers reacted by clamping down on their spending. Retailers, with their excess inventories, were faced with a dilemma and had to reduce subsequent container orders.

Big Box retailers, like Target and Walmart, have since reported having too much inventory. And these two companies are the two largest importers of container freight in the United States. Together, they account for close to 7% of all container imports to the United States. Another large importer, Samsung, also faced similar problems and requested suppliers to reduce production by up to half in July. (Last year, in 2021, Samsung was the 7th-largest importer into the United States.)

Finally, other events, like the transport worker strike in Chennai last month, further compound the bullwhip effect because it further constrains demand up and down the supply chain.

How does the bullwhip effect impact a potential recession?

One issue with the bullwhip is that consumer demand is being destroyed by the Federal Reserve through interest rate hikes. These hikes, designed to slow demand and limit the impact of inflation, have concerned economists and financial experts because of their potential to cause a recession. Normally, demand would stabilize, and excess product inventories could be sold. Instead, fears of the recession and other economic pressures are reducing demand further when inventories are already at extreme highs.

What are the economic dangers?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to whether the U.S. has entered a recession. Economists define a recession as “an economic contraction starting at the peak of the expansion that preceded it and ending at the low point of the ensuing downturn.” 

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, is one of the most frequently cited organizations when determining whether or not the economy is in a recession. As of early August, NBER has not yet claimed that the U.S. has entered one, despite the U.S. experiencing two straight quarters of GDP decline; a so-called “technical recession.”

Moody’s analyst Scott Hoyt argues the “technical recession” many are referring to most likely comes from other countries without an organization like NBER to declare an official recession. Other experts have argued that demand fluctuations are not a demand problem but really just a coordination problem and not a sign of a recession.

Despite suggestions that there is no looming recession, over 30,000 tech employees have lost their jobs as of July, and housing markets are beginning to slow. Cryptocurrency markets have been decimated since their highs earlier this year, giving investors the chance to buy any crypto at a discount. 

The combination of inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes, and GDP regression all have a significant impact on supply chains and thus worsen the effects of the bullwhip.


inflation "made in Ukrainian" product imported into Israel, is that the product is manufactured in the territory of Ukraine.

The Pandemic, Ukraine, And Inflation: How We Got To The New Normal Economy 

Will we ever get back to normal?

Or, are we stuck in the new normal for an extended period?

Economically speaking in the U.S., the answer to the first question is “hopefully,” and to the second question, “probably.”  In the wake of the two-year COVID-19 pandemic’s massive effect on the global economy, Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has added another seismic shock to the system. So here’s what the new normal looks like now:

  • Steep gasoline prices; higher prices for food and just about everything else.
  • For months, record numbers of workers have been leaving their jobs, and as a result many have gained leverage. There’s a huge demand for workers and wages are climbing rapidly.
  • The markets are sometimes whacky and investors are nervous.
  • U.S. consumer demand has been steadily impressive through these two once-in-a-lifetime geopolitical events, and when you combine that with log-jammed or fractured supply chains, inflation has soared to a 40-year high.

The Fed goes on the offensive

In an all-out effort to try to tame inflation, the Federal Reserve could make 12 to 15 rate hikes in the coming months, according to a Reuters article. That kind of aggressiveness would mean increasing rates between 300 and 375 basis points (3% to 3.75%), which is a sizable jump from the seven total increases (1.75% to 2%) analysts have been saying we should expect this year.

But the Fed’s sharp moves increase the chances of a recession happening in 2022 — and could speed up the timeline, ushering in a recession well before the end of the year. Note to investors: If you haven’t met with your financial advisor lately to review your plan and go over your portfolio for unnecessary risk, it’s probably a good idea to get on their schedule soon. We could be in for a rocky road ahead.

In truth, the Ukraine drama has only been an accelerating factor to push us into the problems the market is experiencing right now. For months we’ve expected a slowdown in the economy, inflation was on the march long before the Russians were, oil and gas prices have moved steadily upward through the past year, and consumers have been battered for over a year.

Looking at inflation now and the surrounding factors compared with two and three decades ago is like night and day. For many years leading up to the pandemic, the economy grew slowly but steadily, with low inflation and interest rates. The Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, recently said, “For the last quarter century, we’ve had a perfect storm of disinflationary forces. As we come out the other side of that, the question is: What will be the nature of that economy?”

A big difference between now and then – the normal days – is demand; it was consistently weak pre-pandemic, but now it’s on steroids. When the coronavirus hit, governments around the globe spent massively to navigate businesses and workers through lockdowns. The U.S. spent close to $5 trillion. That money sparked more buying, but the supply chains were overwhelmed and couldn’t keep pace. And the costs went up and up.

As the economy reopened, companies rehired to meet the surge in demand, workers left for higher pay, and some businesses passed along those costs to customers. And now you have an economy that no longer believes in moderation as it did back in the day – modest wage increases, lower prices and slow growth.

When will it all get back to normal? 

Those who pine for a return to economic certainty and normalcy base their hope  primarily on supply chains catching up and higher interest rates slowing spending. Fed estimates indicate that rates won’t have to rise over 3 percent to restore moderation to inflation and growth.

Current trends such as the U.S. labor shortage, however, could stick around and continue to help drive inflation. While people aren’t flocking back to work, those who are changing jobs are often getting higher wages, and consumer demand could stay high enough to influence companies to increase prices. The fact is that largely as a result of COVID, many people are earning more and spending more.

Even solving supply chain issues could keep prices high. More companies could choose to manufacture domestically, thus reducing globalization, which had kept prices and wages down for many years.

Referencing Fed chairman Jerome Powell’s “perfect storm” comment concerning “disinflationary forces” over the last 25 years, you can apply his description to the two enormous geopolitical events challenging the global economy, and ours, now. On the heels of the pandemic – though there’s no guarantee it will stop kicking, by the way – the mess in Ukraine will continue to roil energy markets and contribute mightily to the levels of volatility we are experiencing.

History is marked by major milestones that changed America’s economy. We are now living in one of those rare times. What “normal” will look like in a few years is about as hard to predict as what’s happened in our world the past two years. But you can expect that this new normal – volatile and nerve-wracking as it is – will stick around a while.

About Tom Siomades, CFA

Tom Siomades ( is chief investment officer for AE Wealth Management, LLC, where he works with his team to provide independent financial advisors solutions to help their clients meet their financial goals. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Siomades served as an infantry officer for four years. He earned a master’s degree from Webster University and has more than 30 years of financial industry experience.


State Economies Most Dependent on Outdoor Recreation

Over the past year, pandemic-related shutdowns inspired Americans to head outdoors to find open, safe places to relax and exercise in record numbers.

In 2020, 7.1 million more people headed outdoors, and overall participation in outdoor recreation surpassed 52% for the first time on record, according to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). Among the most popular activities was fishing, which drew higher numbers of participants across multiple age, race, and gender groups.

The surge in outdoor participation undoubtedly provided a boost to the outdoor recreation industry that was already booming before the pandemic hit. In 2012, the industry contributed about $350 billion to the U.S. economy. Heading into 2020, that contribution jumped to more than $450 billion. And with consumers heading outside in record numbers over the past year, the industry’s contribution to the economy is likely to grow.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis categorizes “outdoor activities” into a broad spectrum of hobbies and exercises, including: boating and fishing; sports like golf and tennis; RVing; festivals, sporting events, and concerts; amusement and water parks; and snow activities like skiing and snowboarding.

Among these activities, boating and fishing add the most value to the economy, accounting for a nearly $25 billion impact in 2019. That number is likely to go up, as boat sales increased by 13% in 2020. Those who fared well financially during the pandemic likely had the extra resources to purchase a boat, either fulfilling a lifelong dream or providing their family a new way to enjoy the outdoors.

For those on tighter budgets, fishing presented an economical option to enjoy the outdoors and time spent with friends and relatives. The number of first-time fishing participants jumped 42% in 2020, leading U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams to tell OIA, “We are thrilled to see so many new and returning anglers enjoying our nation’s waters.”

Sports-based recreation and RVing were the second and third most impactful activities, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

The boost in outdoor participation seen across the country in 2020 was particularly beneficial to states dependent on outdoor recreation economically. To identify the states most dependent on outdoor recreation, researchers at Outdoorsy analyzed data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and created a composite index based on the outdoor recreation industry’s share of GDP, employment, and compensation in each state.

Based on these factors, Outdoorsy identified a diverse set of states—both coastal and mountainous—that topped the list. Notably, Hawaii was the only state in which outdoor recreation made up at least 5% of its GDP, employment, and compensation. In the Mountain Region, Montana and Wyoming stood out as the two states most economically dependent on outdoor recreation.

State Rank Outdoor recreation dependency index Outdoor recreation share of GDP Outdoor recreation share of employment Outdoor recreation share of total compensation  Largest economic impact activity
Hawaii     1      100.0     5.8% 5.9% 5.3% Game Areas (including Golf & Tennis)
Montana     2      94.8     4.7% 4.5% 4.1% Boating & Fishing
Wyoming     3      94.2     4.2% 5.2% 4.1% Snow Activities
Vermont     4      93.2     5.2% 4.4% 3.6% Snow Activities
Florida     5      91.6     4.4% 4.0% 3.9% Amusement & Water Parks
Maine     6      91.2     4.2% 4.7% 3.4% Boating & Fishing
Alaska     7      89.8     3.9% 4.5% 3.6% Boating & Fishing
Utah     8      85.4     3.3% 3.9% 3.1% Snow Activities
New Hampshire     9      82.8     3.2% 4.1% 2.7% Snow Activities
Colorado     10      81.2     3.1% 3.8% 2.9% Snow Activities
Idaho     11      78.6     3.0% 3.4% 2.9% RVing
Nevada     12      75.8     3.1% 3.1% 2.8% Boating & Fishing
Oregon     13      75.8     2.9% 3.4% 2.8% RVing
South Carolina     14      74.6     2.9% 3.5% 2.5% Boating & Fishing
South Dakota     15      69.6     2.5% 3.3% 2.5% RVing
United States     –      N/A     2.1% 2.5% 2.0% Boating & Fishing


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Outdoorsy’s website:


When Cash Is Devalued, Where Should Investors Look For Salvation?

With a difficult 2020 receding into the past, investors are left to wonder what lies ahead for them, the economy, and their portfolios in 2021.

Unfortunately, they may find that some investing decisions are still tied to the events of last year.

Because of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the economy, the Federal Reserve saw to it that enormous amounts of money were printed in 2020. That effort to shore up the economy also set off debates about inflation.

Reports show that in excess of 23% of the U.S. dollars now in circulation were created in just the last year, says Toby Mathis, a tax attorney, founding partner of Anderson Law Group ( and current manager of Anderson’s Las Vegas office.

“This bodes well for gold and cryptocurrency as hedges, but really means investors need to be in dividend-paying stocks and real estate to avoid the hard blow of the effect of the U.S. monetary policy,” he says.  “Essentially, your cash is being devalued, so you need to buy assets that pay you.”

Mathis’ tips for investors in these tenuous times include:

When investing in real estate, target low-priced rental properties. For inexperienced investors, real estate shouldn’t be the first option, Mathis says. But for those with some investing savvy, it’s a good addition to their overall investing strategy – if they are careful about making the right moves. “You want to save up for your first property, and buy with cash,” he says. “This is the best bet for this investment actually making you money. You should pull that extra cash from stocks, or savings, and purchase a rental property between $70,000 to $120,000. Yes, properties at that price do in fact exist. You’ll find them outside of the big cities with increasing populations.”

Realize that stocks are more liquid than real estate. While Mathis praises real estate as an investment, he acknowledges it has its drawbacks if you suddenly need cash. Stocks can be bought and sold much more quickly. “I can buy a share of a stock and I could sell it tomorrow and get access to that cash within two days,” he says. “If I buy real estate, I could buy it today but I’m probably not going to be able to close tomorrow. Even if I buy with cash, it’s still going to be a week or two. And usually, your closing is going to take 30 to 60 days.” The same is true when selling real estate. “If you have an unexpected life event — your car breaks down, you lose a job, you have a medical emergency — stocks are much more liquid,” Mathis says. “You can turn them into cash much easier than you can real estate.”

Look for stocks that pay dividends. Mathis says investing in stocks is a smart move for both experienced and inexperienced investors, but he also cautions that not all stocks are equal. Some pay dividends, some don’t. He recommends avoiding the latter. “If you’re investing in stocks that don’t pay dividends you’re leaving close to half of the benefits by the wayside,” he says. “And you’re not going to do as well. You have to invest in dividend-producing companies to see true growth.”

“When people ask me whether to invest in real estate or the stock market, my answer is always ‘yes,’ “ Mathis says. “Either one can be great. I still say stocks are best for investors who are just starting out and need to gain some knowledge and experience, but ultimately you would like to have both.”


Toby Mathis, author of the upcoming book Infinity Investing: How the Rich Get Richer And How You Can Do The Same, is a founding partner of Anderson Law Group ( and current manager of Anderson’s Las Vegas office. He has helped Anderson grow its practice from one of business and estate planning to a thriving tax practice and national registered agent service with more than 18,000 clients. In his work as an attorney, Mathis has focused exclusively in areas of small business, taxation, and trusts. Mathis has authored more than 100 articles on small business topics and has written several books on good business practices, including Tax-Wise Business Ownership and 12 Steps to Running a Successful Business.

compaction Construction workers

Cities With the Most Construction Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has had sweeping impacts on the economy and virtually every industry sector. While the construction industry has weathered the storm better than some hard-hit industries—such as leisure and hospitality—construction is facing some unique challenges. Construction companies are currently contending with project cancellations and delays, supply chain disruptions, and COVID infections among workers. Some parts of the country are more reliant on the construction industry than others, and some are facing worse COVID outbreaks and more stringent business restrictions, meaning the pandemic’s impact on the construction industry has had differential geographic impacts. While construction jobs account for 5.2 percent of all jobs nationally (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), some cities rely more heavily on the construction industry for employment.

Historically, construction employment tends to follow the business cycle, fluctuating with economic expansions and recessions. During the Great Recession that lasted from late-2007 to mid-2009, construction employment fell by 20 percent and then continued to fall until early 2010. It then steadily increased until early 2020. Along with overall employment, employment in the construction industry fell sharply in the spring during the early stages of the pandemic. It started rebounding in May but is still below pre-pandemic levels. Compared to a year ago, construction employment is currently down 2.4 percent.

Construction employment varies substantially on a geographic level. Some cities and states are much more reliant on the construction industry than others, with some areas employing large shares of construction workers. The West tends to depend more heavily on the construction industry while the Midwest and Northeast have lower shares of construction employment. At the state level, Wyoming and Utah boast the largest shares of employment in construction, at 8.5 and 7.6 percent, respectively. Connecticut has the lowest share of employment in construction in the country at just 3.6 percent.

Compared to a year ago, most states experienced declines in construction employment. Down 25 percent from the end of 2019, Vermont had the largest drop in construction employment out of all states. Some states, including Virginia and Missouri, saw employment in construction increase from 2019. Construction employment grew by 5.7 percent in Virginia and by 8 percent in Missouri.

To find the metros with the most construction workers, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the share of employment in construction. Researchers also calculated the construction employment share compared to the national average, the total number of construction employees, and the year-over-year change in construction employment.

Here are the metropolitan areas with the most construction workers.

Metro Rank Share of employment in construction Share of employment in construction (compared to average) Total number of construction employees Year-over-year change in construction employment


Lake Charles, LA     1 19.0% +267.9% 18,600 -16.2%
Baton Rouge, LA     2 11.8% +129.3% 46,800 -3.7%
Vallejo, CA     3 9.7% +87.4% 12,800 -3.8%
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA     4 8.6% +65.9% 16,600 -5.1%
Coeur d’Alene, ID     5 8.0% +54.3% 5,200 -13.3%
Salem, OR     6 7.7% +49.5% 12,300 -1.6%
Tacoma-Lakewood, WA     7 7.5% +44.5% 23,600 -6.7%
Casper, WY     8 7.5% +45.5% 2,800 0.0%
Reno, NV     9 7.4% +43.3% 17,800 -2.7%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA     10 7.3% +41.8% 107,300 +1.9%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV     11 7.3% +41.2% 68,800 -6.6%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX     12 7.2% +39.5% 220,000 -9.3%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL     13 7.0% +35.5% 85,500 -2.8%
San Rafael, CA     14 7.0% +36.1% 7,600 -2.6%
Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, CA     15 6.9% +33.2% 107,200 +1.6%
United States     – 5.2% N/A 7,430,000 -2.4%


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website:


An Ocean of Potential in the Blue Economy

The Blue Economy

The ocean has always been an essential part of life on this blue planet. Oceans cover over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the world’s water. We rely on its resources to sustain and improve our lives.

The World Bank created a definition for this “blue economy” that encompasses “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.”

Economic activities associated with the ocean include traditional sectors such as commercial fishing, coastal tourism and maritime transport to support global commerce. Increasingly, the ocean has been tapped for energy sources and generation of off-shore renewable energies like wind and tidal energy. Marine life is explored for applications to pharmaceuticals, desalination offers an opportunity to meet demand for freshwater, and the ocean can be used for carbon sequestration to mitigate climate impacts.

World Bank Definition of Blue Economy

Vital to Livelihoods and Growth

In one form or another, trade in ocean resources contributes between $3-6 trillion to global GDP, supporting the livelihoods of over 3 billion people on the planet.

Recognizing the importance of measuring the economic impact of the ocean, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in 2019 to develop prototype statistics to measure the ocean’s contribution to the U.S. economy. From aquaculture to shipbuilding, offshore mining and power generation, marine-related activities contributed some $373 billion to U.S. GDP in 2018.

Tourism and recreation generated the most, bringing in just shy of $143 billion in wages, profits, and tax revenue for coastal communities in the U.S. in 2018. The new data also showed that between 2014 and 2018, the American blue economy grew faster than the overall U.S. economy.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

U.S. Ocean Economy

value added by activity in 2018 (millions of dollars)

Tourism and recreation – 38%

National defense and public administration – 33%

Living marine resources – 3%

Marine transportation – 1%

Offshore minerals and utilities – 15%

Deeper Dive into the Ocean Economy

Fisheries and Aquaculture

The ocean delivers a vital and primary source of protein in the diets of over 3 billion people. Marine fisheries employ over 200 million people either directly or indirectly. Expanded global availability of refrigerated storage and transportation has extended access to all kinds of fresh fish.

Overfishing, exacerbated by heavy government subsidies, has become a key concern, putting nearly 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks are at risk. Both the UN and the WTO have made removing these subsidies a priority to help protect vulnerable coastal communities who rely on fish for their own consumption and the local economy.

One-half of all fish we eat is farmed rather than captured. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world. China produces a huge amount of the world’s farmed fish and is the top producer by value of carp, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, oysters and many other types. Norway leads in salmon, trout and smelt with Chile a close second.


Tourism has long been vital to many coastal economies. Overall, tourism employs 1 out of every 11 people around the world. It is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest industries, making up 10 percent of global GDP. International tourism is an invisible export. Visitors spend money on transportation, housing and entertainment using income earned in their home country.

From scuba diving and surfing to cruises and all-inclusive beach resorts, coastal tourism comes in many flavors. It is particularly important for less-developed nations, as it creates jobs, promotes economic growth, and brings in money that is spent in local businesses like restaurants, shops, and tour services.

Tourism is the economic lifeblood of many Least Developed Countries and small island developing states such as those in the Caribbean and southeast Asia that collectively host 41 million visitors visit every year. These states are focused on delivering services to bring in more tourists while preserving the natural beauty and resources that attract visitors to their islands.


Over 80 percent of goods traded internationally such as raw materials, food, consumer goods, and energy products were transported by sea in 2015. Despite reaching a record high of 11 billion tonnes shipped that year, world maritime trade growth decelerated to 2.7 percent in 2018, below the historical average of 3.0, reflecting a range of risks that intensified at the time including global trade tensions, protectionism, and the ‘Brexit’ decision.

Issues surrounding maritime transport are often intertwined with other global economic, environmental and political trends. Security conflicts occur over country ownership of key shipping routes and global discussions are active over the environmental impacts of fuel-guzzling container ships.

The world’s ports can often act as a weather vane for the economy as a whole. Dockworkers feel the effects of tariffs, disasters, and other trade policy changes before farmers, truckers, distributors and retailers do. Effects of the recent U.S.-China trade war and of the COVID-19 pandemic were experienced by dockers who saw the vast reductions in imports before the economic effects rippled throughout the economy.

As supply chains continue to shift and we watch for reshoring, the maritime transport sector may start to look different over the next few years, but will undoubtedly remain an essential part of the global economy.

Stats how we rely on the ocean

Preserving Our Oceans

Sustainability is a key aspect of the blue economy. Although there is an emphasis on environmental stewardship and protection in all parts of the, nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to our oceans, a finite and critical resource.

Overfishing or pollution could deplete fish stocks and cause a severe food crisis. Environmental degradation caused by the tourism industry could ruin the economies of coastal communities. Waste and pollution from shipping could cause accumulated damage to our air and water.

According to Conservation International eight million metric tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year. At this rate, by 2050, plastic would outweigh fish in the ocean. Other concerns cited include the runoff of harmful nutrients from agriculture into the ocean, warming temperatures that are bleaching and destroying coral reefs, and even noise pollution from shipping that is killing creatures such as jellyfish.

International governmental cooperation and advances in technology can combat these problems. Conservation and sustainable use form one of the five pillars used by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as part of their Ocean’s Economy and Trade Strategy project. This effort aims to mitigate damage while maintaining the important economic benefits of the blue economy that supports billions of people.

It seems no aspect of economic life has been spared disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, including many parts of the blue economy and related livelihoods. UNCTAD released a report to chart the waters of re-opening the blue economy to become more resilient post-pandemic. It proposes enhanced coordination and communication between fisheries and distributors to cut down on food waste, exercising restraint in sanitary protectionism, and closely monitoring shipping to prevent bottlenecks and delays. UNCTAD also suggests removing fishing subsidies to tackle wasteful overfishing; developing a “2.0 approach” to coastal tourism that showcases local sustainability efforts; and digitizing maritime trade procedures to achieve efficiencies and reduce CO2 emissions.

Untapped Potential

There is still a lot we don’t know about the world’s oceans, so embracing science and discovery will play an important role as we continue to draw on its precious resources and develop new markets. Untapped economic potential includes the capture of carbon, supporting the existence of a rich oceanic biodiversity, waste disposal, and the protection of coasts.

The blue economy is as diverse as its land-based counterpart – perhaps even more so. Sustainability will continue to be extremely important both for its own sake and for the preservation of the resources we rely on every day. With careful stewardship, the blue economy can continue to support billions of people and enrich all of our lives.


Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.

comfort zone

Afraid to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone? Then You Can’t Lead in the Age of COVID.

COVID-19 has disrupted the business world, and the “normal” of a few months ago may never return. In this new landscape, how business leaders process and react to new challenges will be crucial.

Using critical thinking skills to make sound business decisions in a complicated, constantly changing world has never been more important, says Dr. Jim White, founder and president of JL White International and bestselling author of Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds (

“Critical thinking in the COVID-19 era will separate effective leaders from the pack,” Dr. White says.

“Before, many of us relied on linear thinking – that is, solving problems in a step-by-step fashion. When life proceeds in an orderly way, we can draw conclusions based on probabilities: this is what happened before; therefore, it will happen again. Or, we use contingency statements: if THIS is true, THAT is true.

“But COVID-19 changed those premises. Now, there are too many unknowns to rely on lazy thinking. The volatile economy is one example: we don’t know how or when the markets will recover. What will the business community look like post-COVID? Will people continue to work remotely, and which companies will thrive and which will crumble? Will entire industries – like cruising – buckle under the strain? How will communities deal with their struggling populations, vacant real estate, and shuttered businesses?

“Now is the time for non-linear (lateral) thinking, characterized by expansion in multiple directions rather than in a straight line. The concept has multiple starting points from which we can apply logic to a problem.”

Dr. White offers the following advice to developing non-linear critical thinking:

Step out of your comfort zone. “Critical thinking requires that we see and interpret information from a different perspective,” Dr. White says. “In our old comfort zones we weren’t necessarily required to make difficult decisions. But navigating COVID requires taking steps to adapt to new circumstances. For companies, it means being nimble, finding opportunities and ways to innovate. It may mean drastically reducing a brick-and-mortar footprint in favor of a digital presence. It may mean dumping obsolete inventory at a discount. Or it may mean lay-offs.”

Dr. White thinks many people have closed minds and don’t adapt well to change. “In military training, one is taught to pivot, to escape and adapt, since there is no such thing as a perfect set of circumstances,” he says. “The species that is capable of adapting well is the species that survives.”

Don’t jump to conclusions. “When jumping out of your comfort zone,” Dr. White says, “be careful not to jump to conclusions as well. Instead, ask questions, and organize and evaluate information. For instance, business owners should be asking, is now the right time to be re-opening? Who says the pandemic is over? Who is cautioning against reopening? What will reopening look like? Coming to a valid conclusion requires studying the available data: what is happening in other parts of the world, the country, or the industry?

“One criterion we rely on is, what do experts say? What are the credentials of these experts? Carefully evaluating data has never been more crucial than during this pandemic.”

Separate truth from belief. “People often have trouble separating what is valid from what is true because of ingrained beliefs, which we all have. This ‘belief bias’ interferes with our ability to think logically,” Dr. White says. “Critical thinking means making decisions based only on data. For business leaders that means putting aside what worked in the past and being completely open to new practices and protocols.”

“In the age of COVID-19, we must embrace challenges and make solid decisions based on critical-thinking principles.”


Jim White, PhD, author of Opportunity Investing: How To Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds (, is founder and president of JL White International. He also is chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., and founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP. Throughout his career, he has bought, expanded, and sold 23 companies, operating in 44 countries. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering, an MBA, and a PhD in Psychology and Organizational Behavior.


5 Tips to Help You Lead & Experiment During Crisis

As a leader, during COVID-19 (or any crisis) it can be hard to find your feet and to feel confident in your path. You may feel inadequate, unsure, and out of your depth. That is to be expected. This is leadership like we have never seen before. So many businesses are closed or trying to find new ways of doing things. I believe almost every organization feels like a start-up right now. Uncertain times need new kinds of leadership. We don’t have the answers, only questions, and still, we are asked to be leaders. Being experimental in your leadership approach will help you try things, learn from them, and figure out your next experiment.

These tips will help you find a new center for yourself as a leader:

You are not responsible. It should go without saying, but this is not your fault. This is a global challenge that doesn’t have clear answers. Your people may want you to have answers, but you won’t and you can’t. They will want certainty about their jobs, their income, and their lives. You can’t promise them the future. Encourage them to do their job today and let them know you have compassion but cannot be the answer to their future. Give up being an all-knowing leader and be human. Practice compassion and be collaborative to help your team makes sense of the crazy.

Get bad news out of the way fast. If you have lay-offs and reorgs to do, do it quickly. Make a plan–even if it is a bad plan and clear this from your “to do” list. You will be a better leader with clarity. Kudos if you can be compassionate while you do it. There are some businesses that will not survive this. Don’t hide your head in the sand like an ostrich. Embrace information and communication even if it is bad news. Work on being a good leader in bad times. Figure out what being a good leader means to you. Kindness goes a long way when you are delivering bad news.

Think about a timeline. What is important 1 week from now? What is important 1 month from now? What is important 1 year from now? Some organizations need to be extending their timeline (How will we emerge from this crisis?) while others are busy changing to meet day to day needs (What do our clients need today?). Make sure to orient your thinking daily and consider multiple time frames. Make time to consider your leadership path before you face a day of decision making and are faced with the feelings and challenges of others. Find your own true north as a leader.

Be kind and firm. Your team members may be spinning and scared. Be empathetic and then ask them to get back to their jobs and produce good work. Having meaningful work is a privilege in these times and you can ask them to be achievers right now….today. You can deliver groundedness and purpose as long as they are working. There can be compassion for the challenges they face (kids at home, new environment, etc) but don’t let them off the hook. They are being paid to provide work. Your insistence on them delivering work is part of the work of leadership right now.

Practice extreme self-care. You are your own strongest asset. Experiment to strengthen your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Reach for the salad and smoothies instead of the martinis and chocolate cake. Exercise. Sleep. Meditate if that works for you. Journal or sit and think. Pause. Ask for help and love from friends. Schedule a virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues. Try and go deeper than you ever have before with your self-care. You have never needed to care for yourself as you do today. Experiment with giving yourself what you need.

You will get through this. You will learn from this. You will do your best and you will do your worst in this. As an experimental leader, it is important that you stay engaged in the struggle of leadership. Try and fail and dust yourself off. Figure out the change you want to see and what the barriers are. Figure out an experiment. Collect data. Figure out what you just learned. Ask, “What is my next experiment?” Go experiment again.


Melanie Parish is a public speaker, author, and Master Coach. An expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, and brand development, Melanie has consulted and coached organizations ranging from the Fortune 50 to IT start-ups. She is the author of The Experimental Leader: Be A New Kind of Boss to Cultivate an Organization of Innovators. For more information, please visit,, and connect with her on Twitter, @melanieparish.


How Businesses Can Pivot While Slowed Or Closed During Difficult Times

With businesses across the U.S. having closed temporarily or reduced services due to the coronavirus pandemic, company leaders are trying to find ways to stay afloat until the crisis passes – and figure out how to move forward into an uncertain future.   

Dr. Kyle Bogan,  a business consultant and speaker on workplace culture, says this unprecedented event has caused companies to learn how to pivot on the fly and consider changes that will not only allow them to survive the crisis, but thrive later on.

“Business owners are attempting to balance decreased demand with caring for and providing for their team, and protecting the future of the business they built,” Bogan says. “While there is a negative impact on revenue, many businesses will come out on the other side of this pandemic stronger as a business and stronger as a team.

Bogan suggests ways businesses can pivot during the pandemic that could help them short- and long-term:

Offer online services. “The critical element is to be creative and innovative to find new ways to deliver special services and products to your customers, and discounts where possible,” Bogan says. “They won’t forget that. Going as far as you can for them during an unprecedented time will make it likely they stay with you long after this is over.”

Expand how you inform and update customers. “Let your customers and audience know how and what the company is doing, how it’s adapting,” Bogan says. “Moreover, show you care how they’re doing. Offer links of advice on your website to help them deal with the many aspects of this crisis. If you’re authentic and honest, social media is a way to connect in a kind and helpful way, and that will add more substance to your brand’s image.”

Tighten connections with employees. Many companies are set up to work from home, and they aren’t as hobbled as others that are not. Bogan says consistent communication, enhanced by video conferencing, is vital to stay on top of business processes and to boost morale. “The entire team needs to be better informed and felt cared for and valued, and email alone isn’t sufficient,” Bogan says. “Owners and CEOs need to be transparent with teams about company situations. That builds trust. Send your team resources for anything that could help them during this difficult time. Encourage professional learning during downtime and get creative input from the team, giving them a stake in the future.”

Consider ways to make your culture stronger. Building stronger relationships can help build a better work culture, but that’s only one piece. Bogan says this is a good time for leaders to objectively look at their business culture and find ways to improve it. “The question is, do you want to be intentional about creating a team-first culture that represents you and your business, or do you want it to create itself without a clear vision?” Bogan says. “If you want to experience accelerated growth when this is over, creating a team-first culture is the path you must take. Financial success will follow. People are more willing to spend time and money with your brand if they can feel your team is happy.”

“Truly, we are all in this together – customers, business leaders, employees,” Bogan says. “That’s how a business should think and communicate now during the crisis and going forward.”


Dr. Kyle Bogan ( is a general dentist and a speaker/consultant on workplace culture. He is the owner of North Orange Family Dentistry. Bogan earned a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry and a Fellowship in the International College of Dentists. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, the International Dental Implant Association and the American Academy of General Dentistry. Bogan earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from The Ohio State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and played sousaphone in the marching band.

Time Management in a Global Workforce

Time management used to be a much simpler challenge for businesses. Staff were given a schedule, they appeared, put a card in a clock then did their work. Workers were all co-located, with similar schedules.

The globalized economy has made time management of the workforce a much more involved process.

Now, some staff may be in the same office, but thanks to improved connectivity that is available to virtually everyone, it is just as likely that they are distributed across many locations, time zones and countries.  Connectivity makes it possible to be a mobile worker, participate in distributed work, work from home, or do work share or “Smart Work.”

Many organizations are embracing this new trend. According to, more organizations embraced telecommuting in 2016 than they did in 2011. The advantages to having remote workers where possible are numerous, including reductions in workspace cost. The trend towards global and mobile workers who are not co-located is so strong that many larger employers find themselves unable to compete for top talent without these more flexible work options.

Time management in such a world becomes much more challenging.  If your staff members work from home, how do you determine that they are actually working? Suddenly, a passive timesheet system seems not to be enough.  Should you impose monitoring, or forget about time altogether and focus on getting work complete? For more and more companies that have employees in multiple time zones, how do you manage starting and stopping times in systems such as project management or timesheets, which are centrally located? If you have contractors who don’t work by the hour, should you track time the same way you do for full-time staff?  If you have people in multiple countries, how do you deal with things as simple as a timesheet in the correct language, or accessing the system from their location?

All of these are common time management challenges in today’s world.

My company’s experience with deploying a commercial off-the-shelf project-based timesheet system for global organizations has been about dealing with those challenges. With some clients, having software that is available both for on-premise deployment or in the cloud deals with connectivity issues from different parts of the world. Management is able to use the data collected from timesheets to better assess and manage employees to maximize productivity. For languages, we have had to make interfaces that are adjustable by the end user into the language of their choice without affecting the data. For staff accessing the system from many countries, we made it available in both an on-premise and Software as a Service subscription model.

According to CNBC, 70 percent of workers globally work remotely at least once a week. So for those people who are on the move, having a free Mobile App for Apple and Android devices has been a critical element of success. Our decision was to make the mobile application available on both Android and Apple devices, and to make it free for anyone with a Time Control timesheet license.

With the spread of workforces across many countries, even something as simple as “when is the weekend?” is not certain. In the US, it is almost always Saturday and Sunday. In the Middle East, it might be Friday and Saturday. For some workers, the weekend is no longer relevant as they work at different times during the week. We’ve had to support multiple calendars simultaneously in the background of our system in order to support collecting timesheets for all workers with different calendars and different schedule situations.

It’s fair to say that this trend towards global resources won’t stop anytime soon. As organizations consider how to manage the scheduling of time, and tracking time spent and what it is spent on, it is important to consult with stakeholders in different situations and different locations to ensure your systems will be able to keep up.

Chris Vandersluis is a public speaker, project management industry expert, and president and founder of HMS Software, a leading provider of enterprise timesheet and project management solutions. Over the last 30 years, he has helped hundreds of organizations, both small and large, improve their business management performance.