Supply Chains in Advanced Markets Should Become More Agile, Says Atradius

Atradius, a consultancy specializing in trade credit insurance, surety and debt collections, maintains that the global economy has continued to gain momentum over the past months, with a 3.1% expansion projected for this year.

Higher inflation, falling unemployment, and strengthening Purchasing Manager Indices (PMIs) all suggest higher GDP growth in advanced markets.

Atradius analysts observe that the U.S. economy leads this trend while the recovery in the eurozone becomes increasingly entrenched. The outlook for emerging markets is also brighter, as Brazil and Russia are emerging from recession, and access to finance remains favorable. While the global economic outlook is more robust than in previous years, political uncertainty remains a downside risk to stability.

However, the main challenges to the global outlook – the threat of deflation, negative bond yields, austerity, and low commodity prices – are slowly phasing out.

Global trade is supporting this recovery. After a 1.3% expansion in 2016, trade growth (12-month rolling average, y-o-y) has picked up to 3.3% as of July 2017. The stronger-than-expected expansion is being driven by intra-regional trade flows in Asia and strong import demand from North America.

Despite political uncertainty, most high-frequency indicators point to sustained growth: the global composite PMI posted held steady at 54 in September, pointing to a solid and stable rate of expansion. This has motivated some dramatic upward revisions of trade growth forecasts in 2017. The WTO raised its 2017 forecast for merchandise trade growth to 3.6% from 2.4%.

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Financing the Supply Chain with Big Data

To many, supply chain finance still leans primarily on approved invoices and credit. And yet, over the past 15 years, there’s been a complete transformation in the way financial processes are handled within the supply chain. Fifteen years ago, letters of credit predominated the payment interactions between buyers, suppliers and financial institutions. Financing was arduous and expensive. Today, online, cloud-based platforms are revolutionizing both payment and financing.

Data is the driver. Today, we have unprecedented visibility into all the transactions and interactions that take place in the supply chain. The cloud, as a central information hub, not only can host these interactions and provide a real-time picture of them, but it can also keep long-term records.

This gives financial institutions what they always wanted—a better way to assess risk.

Big Data Financing

Credit rating was historically the key factor for financial providers to assess risk. In many cases, it’s the buyer’s credit rating that counts most, even when the supplier is the one receiving the financing. The problem with credit rating, though, is that it depends on a lot of factors, not just on how reliable a supplier is in delivering goods or how reliable a buyer is in paying on time.

But as far as risk assessment goes, proven transaction history is what lenders prefer to set their decisions and rates upon. But for the longest time, financial providers didn’t have a good way to assess risk independently of credit rating. Now, thanks to big data, they do.

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