Week in Review

Global Roundup

January 6, 2020

Week in Review

Global Roundup

January 6, 2020

US drone strike ordered by Trump kills top Iranian commander in Baghdad. A U.S. drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump on Baghdad airport has killed a top Iranian commander in a major escalation in regional tensions that have pitted Tehran against Washington and its allies in the Middle East. (CNN)

China’s suspension of UK bourse tie-up ‘a political move.’ China’s decision to suspend a tie-up between the Shanghai and London stock exchanges is less a blow for markets than a warning shot to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he readies the U.K. for Brexit. (Business Day)

Zimbabweans told to defend and protect the local currency. In a New Year message to the nation, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Zimbabweans to “defend and protect” the country’s currency from collapse in 2020 but insisted there will be no reintroduction of other currencies. (Business Day)

Iran in mourning, vows revenge for Qassem Soleimani's killing. The assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in air raids by the United States has triggered a wave of emotions and garnered a response of solidarity and retribution across the otherwise divided Iranian political spectrum. (Al Jazeera)

'Firenados' are wreaking havoc across Australia. Cyclonic fire-tornadoes, also known as "firenados," are tearing across parts of southern Australia, adding to the apocalyptic scenes playing out amid one of that nation's worst fire seasons on record. (CNN)

Identifying key risks and uncertainties in 2020. What risks might lurk in the shadows next year that could change the outlook for the energy world? Here are five. (HSN)

Spain coalition talks: Sanchez wins Catalan support to form government. Spain's interim Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has been backed by Catalonia's largest separatist party to form a coalition government. (BBC)

Algeria appoints new government amid worst political crisis in decades. Algeria appointed a new government on Thursday, as the country faces its biggest political crisis in decades and a raft of economic problems caused by falling energy revenues. (Reuters)

Greece, Israel and Cyprus call Turkey's planned Libya deployment 'dangerous escalation.' Turkey’s bill allowing troop deployment in Libya marks a dangerous escalation in the North African country’s civil war and severely threatens stability in the region, according to a Jan. 2 joint statement by Greece, Israel and Cyprus. (Reuters)

Oil prices jump on fears of Iranian retaliation against US. The price of oil surged Friday on concerns that Iran might respond to the killing of its top general by the United States by disrupting global supplies of energy from the Mideast. (AP)

‘A more dangerous world’: Iran killing triggers global alarm. Global powers warned Friday that the world became a more dangerous place after the U.S. assassinated Iran’s top general, urging restraint on all sides. (AP)

Trying to form the world's newest country, Bougainville has a road ahead. "The people have spoken," says Albert Punghau, an official in Bougainville, speaking about the region's referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea. (NPR)



The US’ Assassination of Iranian General: Two Likely Outcomes

Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist

There has been a major escalation of the conflict between the U.S. and Iran, and it is already reverberating through the entire region. The U.S. has carried out attacks on a wide variety of terrorist leaders over the past several years, and many have been prominent.

The common factor was that these were all “unofficial” leaders—heads of terrorist organizations and therefore not connected to any government directly. The targeting of an Iranian general and commander of Iranian backed forces in the region is a major provocation.

Iran is both stunned and extremely angry. Qassem Soleimani is a very high-ranking general in the Revolutionary Guard, and it is already the most radical and anti-American element in Iran.

There is no doubt that Soleimani has been active in attacking U.S. forces, albeit indirectly. He has been coordinating the actions of the pro-Iranian militias, but there had been a hesitance to go directly after him.

It was only a few months ago that U.S. commanders were working with him and others in Iran to fight their mutual enemy: ISIS combatants. Now that the U.S. has killed a top Iranian general and done so deliberately, the Iranians will retaliate and hard.

This will mean an active response by the Iranian militia, but it could be more than this as reports have been pouring in of increased naval activity and air force action. There is the very distinct possibility the U.S. will face two unpleasant options.

There will either be a major return of U.S. troops to Iraq and the region or the U.S. will have to retreat almost completely from the area to avoid Iranian actions. This move will empower the Iranians to a significant extent, and that is not what the U.S. has desired in the past. Look for a very significant buildup of U.S. forces.



Save Time, Cut Costs, Improve Relationships All with E-Invoicing

Andrew Michaels, NACM editorial associate

Decades after its creation, electronic invoicing, also known as e-invoicing, is making its breakthrough in the credit department, becoming a more efficient and accurate element of the payment process. Companies that once relied on paper invoices and the postal industry are adopting the latest in invoicing technology to further improve the buyer-supplier relationship. Governments in the U.S. and abroad are not only encouraging the new payment technology, but they are embracing it.

In February 2019, Australia and New Zealand announced plans to adopt the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) interoperability framework, an e-invoicing standard. Government officials expect it to “increase opportunities for businesses to integrate with the global trading environment.” According to information provider Technology Decisions, 32 countries in Europe, Asia and North America use the framework, which is expected to save Australia and New Zealand more than $30 billion in transaction costs over the next decade. This is a hefty sum considering the countries generate approximately 1.3 billion invoices every year.

John Delaney, managing director of business-to-business (B2B) integration service provider MessageXchange, told PYMNTS that standards such as PEPPOL are essential in strengthening relationships between buyers and suppliers because without them “companies would have to connect to each trading partner separately, which is time consuming and costly.” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell previously told PYMNTS paper invoices in Australia cost $30.87 AUD to receive, but it will only cost $9.18 AUD with e-invoicing.

“Without the standard, the cost to trade would be much higher, and, in my opinion, the uptake of electronic data exchange would be much lower,” Delaney added.

E-invoicing in the U.S. has proven to be just as effective, according to credit managers from across the country. In Houston, Texas, credit professional Martha Hirsch, CCE, said her department no longer touches paper or stuffs envelopes. Today, customers receive their invoices in a timely fashion, following her company’s decision to implement e-invoicing software about five years ago.

“We haven’t found any detriments [to using e-invoicing],” Hirsch said. “In this day and age, e-invoicing is a necessity. It is so much faster than physically mailing invoices.”

Credit Manager James Sarkkinen, CBA, said his department started using e-invoicing to cut costs on postage and mailing equipment. As an early adopter of the technology, Sarkkinen said customers receive their invoices the next day, while there’s no reliance on staff having to be in the office along with other benefits.

“Many customers will date the invoice when received for processing versus the invoice date,” he said. “This has reduced days beyond terms.”

Robert Hernandez, a manager of credit and collections, said that the invoicing process itself hasn’t changed, just the delivery method. His company currently outsources e-invoicing to Billtrust, which uses a website for customers to access their own accounts, get copies, make payments and file claims.

“[This] has reduced the number of requests for additional invoice copies,” Hernandez said. “Our customers need a faster turnaround to receive their invoices.”

However, he noted, credit managers shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge there may be customers that still “don’t like to get anything via email.”

Survey: Business Leaders Start 2020 with Lingering Concerns
About Talent Shortages & Recession Risk

Chief executives worldwide view the risk of a recession as their biggest external concern for 2020, according to a new survey. Attracting and retaining talent ranks as their top internal worry.

Conducted annually since 1999 by The Conference Board, this year’s survey gauged nearly 750 CEOs and nearly 800 other C-Suite executives from mainly four regions: Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. As part of the survey, participants weighed in on which external and internal issues warrant the most immediate attention in 2020.

Overall, uncertainty about global trade was widespread and ranked as the second biggest concern for 2020. Chinese CEOs ranked it first with recession, while U.S. CEOs put it at fourth place—tied with global political instability. For Latin America and Europe, it placed first and third, respectively.

Although Chinese CEOs ranked the effects of economic sanctions as their fifth biggest external worry, their concern was highest among the other regions by a large margin. The results reveal that the role of technology in U.S.-China trade tensions is “deep” and “enduring,” the survey finds. It notes that tariffs are likely temporary and subject to negotiation. However, technology blockades, via economic sanctions, are not.

“The ongoing concerns about recession risk among business leaders reflect the slowing economy of the past year and the uncertainties about the outcome of the trade disputes and other policy concerns,” said Bart van Ark, chief economist at The Conference Board, a global research organization. “However, given a slightly better outlook for the global economy and an easing of trade tensions, we anticipate that a drumbeat of negative sentiment—which can become a self-fulling prophecy—can be avoided, and that we will see more confidence about business prospects in 2020.”

For CEOs globally, fiercer competition rose from being their fourth top external worry in 2019 to their third in 2020. More than 70% of the participants plan to increase their cybersecurity budgets in 2020. Almost 40% said their organizations lack a clear strategy to deal with the financial and reputational impact of a cyberattack or data breach.

The impact of climate change on their business moved up two notches from 11th to ninth, year on year. They also feel unsettled political instability and more intense competition from disruptive technologies. However, they plan to counter such forces by developing more innovative cultures and new business models.

Regardless of a company’s location or size, attracting and retaining top talent ranks as the No. 1 internal stressor for CEOs and other C-Suite executives globally in 2020. A tight labor market, among other issues, were credited for intensifying the issue. Globally, respondents ranked developing “next gen” leaders as their fourth-top internal priority.

“The global challenge in acquiring and retaining talent requires companies to be more strategic—knowing not only what qualities and skills to recruit for—but also how to recruit more efficiently and effectively,” said Rebecca Lea Ray, Ph.D., executive vice president of human capital at The Conference Board. “To support such efforts, they can consider leveraging artificial intelligence, a valuable tool when used with the proper understanding and safeguards.”

The survey results reveal much agreement between CEOs in mature economies (436 respondents) and emerging markets (304 respondents). However, some stark differences exist when it comes to issues that they plan to prioritize in 2020. Mature-market leaders were more concerned about tight labor markets, the uncertainty about global trade and emerging-market leaders were more concerned about the declining trust in political and policy institutions.

Regarding internal factors, mature-market leaders were much more interested in managing mergers and acquisitions and building a more inclusive culture.

And, “When it comes to creating new business models because of disruptive technologies, there is more urgency among emerging-market CEOs than those in more mature economies,” said Chuck Mitchell, executive director of knowledge, content, and quality at The Conference Board. “This should raise a warning flag about possible complacency considering the current speed of disruption. The truth is that



 Week in Review Editorial Team:

Diana Mota, Associate Editor and David Anderson, Member Relations