Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

I am finally home long enough to gather my thoughts and hopefully get back to providing some insights into the flat rolled, plate and scrap markets from my perspective.

There is obviously a lot of uncertainty connected to the Section 232 tariffs in both steel and aluminum. The Trump administration appears to have an intense focus on changing the way other countries trade with the United States. I have mixed emotions about the “break the glass” strategy that seems to have been working for most of the world for the past 70 years. However, I do not disagree that there are barriers to trade with some countries that block American exports to protect their own industries. The U.S. does the same on a selected few products like tobacco and peanuts.

We have an article in tonight’s issue written by Dr. Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics. Dr. Beaulieu is one of the best economists I have heard during my steel career. He is one of our keynote speakers at this year’s SMU Steel Summit Conference and I highly recommend that you come and sit in on his talk (Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 8:15 AM).

I would love to hear from companies, especially U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing companies that are being affected by the Section 232 tariffs. I would like to find out if decisions related to bringing manufacturing back to the United States are being affected by the Trump administration? At the same time, is your company looking at the landscape and making decisions to move more manufacturing outside of the United States? You can reach me at: or by phone at 800-432-3475.

I received hundreds of emails, texts, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, as well as phone calls, regarding the sale of Steel Market Update to the CRU Group. I did not receive one negative comment. There were a few hoping that nothing will change. Let me address that for a moment. I have signed a three-year contract with the CRU Group. They have expressed their desire to have me stay longer than the three years. They want Steel Market Update to prosper and grow. We (myself and CRU) want SMU to continue to be a voice for those in the steel industry for many decades after I am gone.

To do that, we must change the way we do some things, better develop products we already have in the system and create new products and data sets based on what is needed in the manufacturing, distribution, steel mill, trading and financial communities.

So, we may be phasing out some products and creating new ones. If you find that something you loved is missing, let me know: If there is something missing from our newsletter or website that you think should be covered, please let me know.

My intention is to end this year’s SMU Steel Summit Conference with a joint presentation by the CRU Group and Steel Market Update. We want to answer whatever questions you might have and we want to bring new products out of SMU to satisfy our members.

We had a great Steel 101 workshop last week in Memphis, with tours of the Nucor Hickman and Nucor-Yamato steel mills. Here is what John Quinn of Curtis Steel had to say about the workshop, “Overall, the workshop was very informative. The individuals from SMU know what they are talking about and can answer any questions you may have regardless of your level of experience. I would recommend this workshop not for just new hires into the steel market but as a refresher course for those that have been involved for years. I have returned to my office with a better understanding of how steel is made and what it takes to obtain the product’s we utilize.”

I will be working on the content for our next workshop with AK Steel over the course of this week. The next steel training workshop will have a special focus on “new” steels such as advanced high-strength steels for automotive applications. The workshop will be conducted for the first time inside the new research facility at AK Steel. We will also tour the fully integrated steel mill AK Steel has at Middletown, Ohio. More details about this workshop will be coming soon.

By the way, we have been unsuccessful (so far) in obtaining a panelist/speaker who can talk about the issues the railroads are having. I would also like to strengthen the trucking portion of our program (we have Rebecca Brewster, President and COO for the American Transportation Research Institute). If you have a speaker on either rail or trucking that you think would add value to our program, please contact me at 800-432-3475 or

As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, President & CEO

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