ISM released its August Report on Business – Manufacturing, and the news is not surprising considering the continuing European debt saga, Indian snafus such as the biggest power outage in history and other uncertainties. The index is just under the 50 mark — making it the second consecutive month of manufacturing decline after a run of 34 positive months. According to ISM, the overall economy is still growing, and that mixed result is reflected in comments from survey participants that ranged from “demand is strong” to “a marked slowing in business overall.” While it generally makes sense not to take great risks in the face of such uncertainties, there are also good opportunities for leverage if your company or your industry is one of those that still has positive momentum. Suppliers who see softening demand from other customers may be willing to trade margin for the certainty of your business. These are times when you can take advantage if you have been careful to build cost models for what you buy. The more you understand what drives the prices of your suppliers, the better position you’re in lower them without driving your supply base out of business.