The Artisan Shutter Company which makes custom shutters for high end residential and commercial buildings is seeing loss in cash flow due to declining economic conditions of the housing market. Half of the company’s customers started making late payments, this was seen in reduced cash flows. The cash flows were not sufficient to support the current operations and resulted in the company needing to lay off 15% of its employees (Garrison, Noreen, & Brewer, 2015, p. 640).
From the mid-1990s through 2005 home prices surged making residential real estate a great investment and Wall Street firms took notice and investors started to invest in mortgage backed securities (Tanneeru, 2009). This was good as long as everyone was paying their mortgage, “[But] we didn’t take into account with these mortgages that people might lose their jobs, the interest rate might go up and the housing prices may go down. Guess what? All three happened.” (Tanneeru, 2009)
As the referenced article above states it was a perfect storm. Housing prices peaked in the second quarter of 2007, and started to steadily decline (U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency, 2017). Unemployment also started to increase finishing 2006 at 4.4 and the following year in December at 5.0 (Bureau of Labor Statisics, 20017). These conditions also had an impact on the availability of credit, because banks became stricter on loans and lines of credit.
Business started to delay payments to their suppliers making it difficult for Artisan Shutter Company to collect cash from its customers, which is a cash inflow. The smaller suppliers such as Artisan Shutter Company were the ones to first have payments delayed. “Small businesses are hugely dependent on their cash flow, so they must either cut costs or scramble to find alternative funding if they aren’t being paid on time. With money tight and bank loans hard to get, a cash-strapped company can easily be pushed to the brink.” (Spors & Covel , 2008)
Artisan Shutter Company tried to weather the storm of decreased money supply by cutting employment by 15% (Garrison, Noreen, & Brewer, 2015). But, reducing staff is only one method to ease their current position. A more aggressive approach to collecting on outstanding invoices and making customers pay upfront could also create cash inflows much needed. They could also review the impact of delaying payments owed to suppliers to free cash flows up. Amazon stretched the numbers of days it took to pay suppliers from 63 to 72 and while sales increased by 28% its accounts payable nearly doubled causing a 116% increase in free cash flow. (Garrison, Noreen, & Brewer, 2015, p. 653)
Bureau of Labor Statisics. (20017, April 5). Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Retrieved from Databases, Tables & Calculators by Subject: https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet
Garrison, D. R., Noreen, P. C., & Brewer, P. C. (2015). Managerial Accounting, 15th e.d. New York: McGraw Hill.
Spors, K. K., & Covel , S. (2008, Oct 31). Slow Payments Squeeze Small-Business Owners. Retrieved from The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122540968964686203
Tanneeru, M. (2009, Jan 29). How a ‘perfect storm’ led to the economic crisis. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/01/29/economic.crisis.e…
U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency. (2017, April 5). All-Transactions House Price Index for the United States [USSTHPI]. Retrieved from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/USSTHPI
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