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Economics & Research Blog

Odds & Ends, and the "Other" Dr. Joe

Economic stuff:

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: May 7, 2008

Economic stuff: The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index was far stronger that anyone anticipated. It moved to 52 from 49.6, and intentions to add employees actually went up. This actually supports the unemployment rate moving down to 5%, which was viewed skeptically when reported last week. What if they gave a recession and nobody came?
Employment may not be growing in any substantial way, as we keep moving sideways. Today's productivity report showed a gain of 2.2%. As we know, GDP was up by 0.6%. The rule of thumb is that employment increases when GDP is greater than productivity. So while the productivity data should be viewed as optimistic, we do have to remember that inflation still exceeds productivity, and that productivity still exceeds GDP, so the stagflation scenario is still in place. While unit labor costs were tame, hourly compensation rose at a rate less than inflation. This is not good, as workers with larger paychecks soon realize that prices outstrip their raises. The only way out of this is through increased productivity, and there is nothing on the horizon to think that a surge in such will be coming. As they say, the horizon is a fixed point in the sky which is always the same distance away.
A picture is worth... We now have photographic proof that there are two Joe Webbs.
Road Warrior: There's a new version of WordPerfect available (most people would just yawn at the prospect). This is another case of knowing what's in software products other than what you use coming in quite handy when you least expect it. The Quattro spreadsheet and Presentations programs in the suite are still showing their age, and OpenOffice has definitely passed them. But one feature in WordPerfect X4 is that you can now IMPORT (it's in caps for a reason) PDF files and convert them into word processing documents. It won't be flawless, I'm sure, but I tested it out and was quite impressed. Usually, you can only find this "decomposition" capability in some recent OCR software. What's really nice is that you can download WordPerfect Office X4 for a 30-day trial. I loved using WordPerfect for writing for many years, but would end up in Word once done. I've since switched completely over to OpenOffice, which is planned to add this PDF-decomposition feature in its 3.0 version to be released this September.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.



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