BY MARK B. SOLOMON, SENIOR EDITOR
interview with Norbert Ore
Few economic reports
are as influential as
the Institute of Supply
monthly report on
Norbert Ore not
only produces the
report but tells us
what it all means.
OF THE MOUNTAINS OF ECONOMIC DATA
sliced and diced each month, very little has the
durability, credibility, or market-moving influence of the Institute of Supply Management’s
(ISM) Manufacturing Report on Business. Published continuously since 1931—save for
the four years during World War II—the monthly report dissects trends across 18 industries through 11 indexes. Its headline number—the Purchasing Managers Index
(PMI)—is closely tracked by economists, policymakers, and investors alike.
Since 1996, the report’s production has been overseen by Norbert J. Ore, who serves
in a volunteer role as chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. Ore
recently retired from Georgia Pacific Corp. after a long career in supply management.
Before joining Georgia Pacific, where he was group director of strategic sourcing and
procurement, he held supply chain leadership positions at Sonoco Products Co. and
Chesapeake Corp. That background has served him well in his current role as analyst:
Ore’s comments in the communiqué that accompanies each ISM report are as closely
scrutinized as the data itself.
Ore spoke with Senior Editor Mark B. Solomon in early October about the report—
its roots, its relevance, and what it tells us about the state of the U.S. economy.
QThe ISM manufacturing report was established in 1931, during the depths of the Great Depression. How did the report get started, and did the economic conditions of the day play any role in its creation?
AThe Manufacturing Report on Business was established at the request of President Hoover to meet a need for more current information on the economic conditions
during the period. As you might imagine, the quality, timeliness, and amount of economic data available to policymakers was less than sufficient in those days. The ISM