January 2, 2015 - 2015 is now upon us and the big question is what sort of year will it be? A good deal of uncertainty and change promises to keep us guessing for a while - if not most of the year.
We have now completed our surveys of the UK, German, Austrian, Swiss and Irish crane and access markets and in general the view for 2015 is positive, with the vast majority of companies expecting rental rates and utilisation to continue to improve, causing rental companies to step up replacement plans and even look at fleet expansion.
In Southern Europe while the situation is still very hard, there is a definite feeling that the worst of it is behind us, even though the next year or two will continue to be rocky. The US and Canada look decidedly positive and Australia ended th eyear with a lot more promising picture than it did this time last year.
Against that we have a drastically falling oil price, that should help many of the struggling European economies, while causing a review of oil and gas spending which has been a cornerstone of the crane business for the past six years or so. Falling oil prices could also hit markets in the Middle East, while Russia is already feeling the pinch. China and India may well bounce back a little this year if growth continues to pick up in the west, while commodity prices ease.
One thing that is clear, is how interdependent the world has become. One piece of news may look positive when viewed from one aspect but then its negative effect on another part of the world can easily come back and bite us from a different angle. What we need above all is stability and an end to wild swings in both commodity prices and industrial production capacity.
On balance I think 2015 will be a good year for the markets that we cover, with dozens of opportunities for the far sighted. It will remain challenging and uncertain though, and while some statistics will look good I would be surprised if we see that fat, happy feeling that a stable growing market can bring. This may be a sign of the future?
While markets such as powered access continue to post new records as the industry moves towards early maturity in an increasing number of countries, I don’t think we will ever see the glory days of the past when doing business in boom years was all too easy. Modern communications and heightened competitiveness has changed that for ever.
Let us know how you think 2015 will turn out, compared to 2014 in our annual online poll, which we will keep live throughout January.
In the meantime thank your for your support in 2014, and I wish you all a happy, prosperous and safe year in 2015.
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