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Dr. Joe Webb

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

What do you think? Please send feedback to Dr. Joe by emailing him at drjoe@whattheythink.com.

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Recent Commentary & Analysis from Dr. Joe Webb

Displaying 1-24 of 1171 articles

Q1-2016 GDP +0.5%; Inventory Correction Finally Arrives

Published April 29, 2016

US real GDP for Q1-2016 was reported at annual growth of only +0.5% compared to Q4-2015. On a year-to-year basis, the growth rate was +1.95%. The inventory adjustment that the economy has needed finally came, with the lowest net inventories in two years. Real GDP growth less inventories was +2.3% on a year-to-year basis.

 

S&P 500 Revenue Per Share Still Lags Economy

Published April 28, 2016

Everyone knows that the stock market is up from its lows at the bottom of the recession,but one obscure but key measure underscores how sluggish the economy has been. The S&P 500 should have a bias of steadily increasing revenues. It has most of the best companies in the world, with international presence in the globe's growing markets and a foundation in the established ones. It is rare for companies to be dismissed from the S&P 500, but companies are added all the time. When S&P companies merge, they create a new entity of combined revenues, and another company is added with new revenues to add to the index. The other upward bias should be the high level of stock buybacks buy these large companies, as they borrow money at low interest rates and create “shareholder value” by reducing the number of shares and increasing the value of each share of stock. We've called this cowardly, as it increases earnings per share (EPS) without needing to increase total profits. So this revenue per share should be steadily increasing with a growing economy in a recovery that started in mid-2009. It seems that companies have done a much better job of financial engineering than they have in creating revenues.

 

What Dr. Joe's Reading: Apple's Horrid Quarter Produces a Paltry 20% Profit; Smartphones and PCs; Labor Shortages

Published April 28, 2016

What Dr. Joe's Reading: Apple's Horrid Quarter Produces a Paltry 20% Profit; Smartphones and PCs; Labor Shortages.

 

Premium Content Less Gets More, Models and Supermodels, and Why True and False Should Add Up

Published April 25, 2016

The latest government data show fewer commercial printing establishments, fewer employees, but higher pay. Now that more economic data are negative, we should really know if forecasting models economists use make any sense beyond predicting the past. Many of those models use spreadsheet software, and some programs can't make what's true and what's false add up. Yes it's a Dr. Joe potpourri.

 

NFIB Small Business Index: A New Recession for Main Street?

Published April 21, 2016

Economic data have been conflicting of late, but there is one consensus in the data that is clear: the small business economy did not recover from recession, and looks like it’s back in recession territory. There are many indicators we use for small business but one that is watched often is that of the NFIB. It is published monthly and has a long history. US government data focuses attention on the largest businesses because they represent big chunks of the economy and report some kind of data, especially payroll data, with great frequency. Think of it as counting whales rather than minnows. Their recent analysis said “The small business sector... is underperforming, doing little more than operating in maintenance mode. Slow economic growth is now just a result of population growth, more haircuts, retail customers, health care patients, etc. But there is no exuberance, no optimism and not much hope, the numbers make it clear.” Economies stuck in +2% growth mode tend to do that.

 

Dr. Joe’s Latest Reading About Marketing, Loans, Recession, Taxes

Published April 21, 2016

This week's recommended reading and articles of interest to media and printing executives.

 

Premium Content 2014 US Commercial Printing Capital Expenditures: New Purchases Down, Used Purchases Up

Published April 19, 2016

The US Department of Commerce recently released its Annual Survey of Manufactures Capital Expenditures report, issuing data for 2014.

 

The Fed Never Really Stopped QE3

Published April 14, 2016

This week’s chart shows the aggressive actions of the Federal Reserve after the housing bubble. For decades, the Fed’s balance sheet increased by about 6% per year, averaging about half inflation and half economic growth. The rocket-like rise when the bubble burst is clear, and then the three steps up of each of the quantitative easings are plainly seen. The Fed has wanted to raise rates for some time, but they have also wanted to stop the buying of government instruments that characterized the QE programs. They create shortages of publicly traded bonds which increases their prices, which makes the effective interest rates low. Rather than ending their purchases, the Fed has been replacing matured obligations. In effect, this keeps QE3 going. Can the Fed ever end it? They may hold on and hope that over time that economic growth and inflation catches up to them in time, but that can take forever, or perhaps longer. It will be difficult for the Fed to end its policy without robust economic growth that will give them the flexibility and opportunities to unwind their holdings. Should a recession begin, or a new financial crisis emerge (even an internationally) the Fed might need to create an additional QE effort.

 

Premium Content USPS, Shiny Objects, Recovery, and Recession

Published April 11, 2016

The USPS exigent price increase has expired, and USPS says they “will lose approximately $2 billion in annual revenue resulting from a price reduction” which they knew was going to expire. The increase was to help “recover for the massive volume and revenue losses resulting from the Great Recession.” Yet, Dr. Joe shows that the declines in USPS volume kept declining after the economic recovery began in mid-2009. Then Dr. Joe talks about recession in light of recent economic data. Yeah, they’ll be calling him Dr. Doom again.

 

Premium Content Can USPS Price Increase Rollback Get EDDM Moving Again?

Published April 7, 2016

The USPS is always in the news, and last month's Annual Compliance Determination report was not particularly positive. “The majority of products failed to meet service performance targets for FY 2015” read the Postal Regulatory Commission press release. The PRC directed “the Postal Service to improve service performance and provide a comprehensive plan within 90 days.”

 

Dr. Joe's Recommended Reading about Co-Workers, Presidential Candidates, and Disruption

Published April 7, 2016

This week's recommended reading and articles of interest to media and printing executives.

 

Premium Content Twenty-one Months of Consecutive Increases for US Commercial Printing Shipments

Published April 6, 2016

The US Department of Commerce issued its latest report of US commercial printing shipments (NAICS 323) and the data show 21 consecutive months of positive comparisons to the prior year current dollar shipments. The trend started with June 2014, and has been an average increase of +3.3%, +$225 million per month, for that period.

 

Recovery Indicators Say “Recession? Don't Know the Word”

Published April 6, 2016

We may have gone through the first six week recession in history. That's said a bit tongue-in-cheeck, but many of the economic measures seem to have bottomed or are in the process of doing so. Besides that, recessions are measured in quarters, not weeks. The doom of the global economic slowdown and the worldwide currency crises seems to have left with a whimper.

 

Printing Profits Rebound (A Little)

Published March 31, 2016

Profits bounced back from a terrible third quarter which had an industry-aggregate loss of -2.57% as a percentage of revenues, and went back up to a more reasonable 4.38%. The difference was the massive writedowns of the third quarter which resulted in a -10.97% loss in printing companies with more than $25 million in assets.

 

Dr. Joe's Thoughts and Resources, and Some Road Warrior Advice

Published March 31, 2016

This week's recommended reading and articles of interest to media and printing executives.

 

Third Look at 4Q-2015 GDP Revised Up, Atlanta Fed Q1-2016 GDP Estimate Plummets

Published March 30, 2016

In a clear case of dealing with a two-handed economist when asked about economic conditions, the Bureau of Economic Analysis increased their estimate of fourth quarter GDP to +1.4%. The initial report was +0.7%, and then it was revised to +1.0%, and now it is +1.4%. They were off only by $100 billion from the first report, greater than the size of the printing industry, just to add some perspective about how big the US economy is.

 

Premium Content Updated Commercial Printing Forecasts to 2021

Published March 24, 2016

Now that 2015 data are complete, we have run the forecasting models again and present them in this chart.

 

This Week's Dr. Joe Recommended Reading

Published March 24, 2016

This week's recommended reading and articles of interest to media and printing executives.

 

Premium Content The Role of Print in the Media Mix and Shifting Economic Perspectives

Published March 21, 2016

Outsell, Inc., those folks who got our industry's attention by saying “print can be a legitimate spinoff from the Web,” are out with their latest estimates of media spending for 2016. Their latest data should make print owners and executives take notice because they offer a view into the problems that communications decision-makers face, and we're all about solving problems, aren't we. Dr. Joe adds his commentary to theirs and his insights into some of the latest economics news.

 

Advertising Agency Revenues Have Major Revision Down for 2013 & 2014, but Remain in Long-term Uptrend

Published March 17, 2016

The US Department of Commerce released its latest Quarterly Service Survey last week, and it reduced shipments for the third quarter of 2013 by -$4 billion (whoops – a -15% statistical error).

 

Fed Keeps Rates as they Are; Reduces Likely Number of Rate Increases in 2016 from Four to Two

Published March 17, 2016

This topic will be discussed in the upcoming Mondays with Dr. Joe on March 21. This news surprised no one as there are still great concerns about the economic conditions of world markets. The statement released at their prior meeting did not include comments about risk, but the one for this meeting did. They said “The Committee currently expects that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen. However, global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks.” It's likely that the first part was wishful thinking, since retail sales data were disappointing and prior data were revised down, and manufacturing activity still shows difficult time in that sector. The chances of no increases or only one in 2016 are now higher.

 

Dr. Joe's Neat Stuff in the Media

Published March 17, 2016

There have been several reports released recently that are of interest to media and printing executives.

 

Dr. Joe Ramblings: Small Business, Praise to Harvey, Great Reports, and the College “Bubble”

Published March 10, 2016

Dr. Joe Ramblings: Small Business, Praise to Harvey, Great Reports, and the College “Bubble”

 

Is the Positive Run for Commercial Printing Coming to a Close?

Published March 10, 2016

The latest printing shipments were discussed in the “Mondays with Dr. Joe” of March 7. The chart offers more details. Revenues turned around on a current dollar basis with June 2014 shipments (blue line) and the positive comparisons to the prior year kept going until the most recent report, January 2016. In current dollars, January’s shipments were barely above those of 2015, keeping the positive comparison streak intact.

 

Premium Content Economic Data: It's Okay to be Less Worried

Published March 7, 2016

The recovery indicators bounced back from a scary month. Printing shipments beat out a weak grounder to keep their winning streak alive, unless the statisticians call it an error. And how does that relate to employment? Dr. Joe explains that, negative interest rates, adds his constant tirade against buybacks, and tells us not to get caught up in that saw about half of people not paying taxes. What can we say? It's Dr. Joe. You know how he gets.

 

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