Monthly Supply Chain Review: April

Welcome to our April edition of the Monthly Supply Chain Review. It’s been a busy month and a busy first quarter of 2016:

In transportation and automotive news, VW reached an agreement in the U.S. regarding its emissions cheating scandal. While many details remain undisclosed until later in the year, estimated costs for the company have come in near $18 billion, not including fines and other costs. The process is ongoing and continues affecting consumers and dealers.

The world of ride-sharing has also had its share of developments. Sharing-economy pioneer Uber has reached a settlement with drivers.  While those working for Uber will remain independent contractors rather than employees, they will gain the right to unionize as well as solicit tips from riders. To what extent will this change the company’s relationship to consumers—and what might lie ahead for similar companies?

Beyond transportation, disruptive technologies have also affected policing and criminal justice. Though the FBI stepped down in its attempt to force Apple to bypass its own security systems by breaking into the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, it hired an independent contractor to perform the task. This month the FBI director disclosed an estimated $1.3 million payday to the still anonymous hacker; and questions begin to emerge not only about the balance of privacy and public safety, but also about what precedent this sets for future searches.

Sears, Sports Chalet, and numerous other retailers have scaled back or made announcements that they will be closing down this year.  To what extent does this mark the end of big-box and department style stores, and to what extent are Millenials driving the change in what constitutes success for retailers?

To end on a high note, first time unemployment claims have dropped to their lowest levels since 1973.How will this shape the remainder of the economic year?


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