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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 1212 articles

Don't be in the One in Seven

Published August 25, 2016

One in seven US households has negative net worth, according to Bloomberg. It was based on a new report by the New York Federal Reserve. According it Bloomberg, “

 

E-Commerce and US Retail Sales

Published August 25, 2016

E-commerce has been running at the rate of 15% annual growth for many years, but is just 8% of retail sales. That seems tiny in relation to what we've seen happen to print promotions like catalogs and direct mail, and the rise of zombie or troubled shopping malls. The problem is that big ticket items, like autos, raise the size of retail sales. Those items may be researched online, but their actual purchase is not made until it is transacted at a car dealer. Restaurant purchases are also a distorting issue in the data. This chart explains it a little better. E-commerce sales is at the bottom (red line). In the second quarter, it was just short of $100 billion. The blue line is retail sales less vehicles and parts. The green line has food service sales deducted. The black line had e-commerce sales deducted, and shows retail sales through traditional channels. Those sales through older channels are lower than they were at the start of the recession. All of the growth in non-auto and non-restaurant retail for the last decade has occurred in e-commerce channels.

 

Straightforward Economics; Can You be Trusted with “The Good Leads”?

Published August 22, 2016

There are signs of economic slowdown despite what cable's talking heads say. The disparity of consumer prices and printing prices help explain the forces of consolidation and why print businesses need to have a constant review of their costs and value creation capabilies. The Australia Census folks may need to paper over a computer problem. Nothing helps improve sales more than leads, sales leads, the good leads.

 

Commercial Printing Employment: Production Employees Up +0.7%, Administrative Down -8.1%

Published August 11, 2016

Since January 2013, the number of production employees in commercial printing establishments has grown slightly, and is up +0.7%, from 307,700 employees to 310,000. Other employees, which are mainly administrative including sales, are down -8.1%, from 145,000 to 133,300.

 

Premium Content Changes in Employment, the Economy, and Print

Published August 8, 2016

Nothing is ever what it seems, and that goes for last week's employment report (again). Ripples of consolidation are seen in printing employment data. There's growth in the advertising and design markets, and pain in publishing. Dr. Joe puts GDP and printing shipments into historical context. The iPhone is a means to explore the topic of trade. No, Dr. Joe's not trading in his iPhone.

 

US Commercial Printing Shipments for First Half of 2016 Up +1%; Q2 Shipments Decline

Published August 5, 2016

In data released by the US Department of Commerce, commercial printing shipments for June 2016 were down -$58 million compared to last year (-0.8%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down -$130 million (-1.8%).

 

Recovery Indicators: 3 Up, 2 Down, 1 Unchanged

Published August 4, 2016

The NASDAQ had a good month, rebounding by 6.5% last month. Compared to last year at this time, the NASDAQ is up +0.6%, which is a negative return compared to inflation (less inflation it is -0.5% because the CPI is +1.1%).

 

GDP Revisions Show Declining Growth Rate Since 2014

Published August 2, 2016

The annual multi-year revision of US GDP data was released on Friday. The new data reflect more complete reporting of the thousands of data series that are used in the calculation of GDP and less reliance on estimated data. The revisions cover GDP from 2013 to the present reporting.

 

S&P 500 Real Sales per Share Reflects Struggling Economy

Published July 28, 2016

A way of judging the health of the economy is to calculate the inflation-adjusted sales of all of the companies in the S&P 500 and divide it by the total number of public shares. This index should have a natural upward bias. S&P 500 companies are very large, and acquire or merge with other companies, many of which are outside of the 500 companies. Buybacks of stock, which has been a trend of note these last five or so years, reduce the number of shares, or slow the growth in shares, reduce the denominator, again, giving it an upward bias. Instead, this measure has suffered. It peaked in 2007, and has yet to surpass that level. This means that corporate profits, which have generally been good (though slowing lately) have been managed by refinancing of debt to lower interest rates and reductions in costs and expenses. Those better profits are not the result of increased revenues. Slow, sluggish economic growth is reflected in these figures, and is a reminder that one should not look only to GDP as an indicator of the true health of the private sector.

 

Are You Ready for Atomic Memory in the Hands of Big Brother when You're Texting and Walking?

Published July 28, 2016

Dr Joe on Atomic Memory, Audio-enabled mobile coupons, Digital ad spending of US retailers, Barron's market data calendar,

 

Premium Content Look What I Found! Print!

Published July 25, 2016

An Olgivy & Mather executive discovers print. We need to discover it, too, looking at print through the eyes of our clients and prospects. It's not that print is dead or not dead, there is a generation of media buyers for whom print is not alive. This ad exec's comments are vital in understanding how to make print relevant and, surprisingly, new.

 

Premium Content Employment Data Discombobulation Might Require an IRL Meeting

Published July 11, 2016

Commercial printing's workforce reflects consolidation and leaner management. Last week's employment data was so haphazard it looks suspiciously like a dart board was involved. The USPS still needs to be Spooner-fed. If this all sounds confusing, perhaps it's time for an IRL with Dr. Joe.

 

Recovery Indicators Better than Recent Economic News

Published July 7, 2016

The recovery indicators showed better economic activity in June. This ended the second quarter in a manner that seemed contrary to many recent economic data.

 

Are We Headed to QE4?

Published July 7, 2016

This chart shows the Fed's balance sheet in the format known as the St. Louis Adjusted Monetary Base. Prior to the doubling of that balance sheet, it was growing at the annual rate of 6%, which was basically comprised of the long term rates of 1% for population growth, 2% for inflation, and 3% for economic growth.

 

Dr. Joe Recommending Reading

Published July 7, 2016

Recommended reading and news from Dr. Joe Webb

 

May Printing Shipments Up +1.2% Versus 2015; Trend is Flattening

Published July 6, 2016

US commercial printing shipments for May16 were $7.37 billion, the highest level in current dollars for the month since 2013. For the first five months of 2016, shipments are up approximately +$476 million in current dollars (+1.4%) and up +$79 billion after inflation (+0.2%)

 

US Q1-2016 GDP Revised to +1.1%

Published June 30, 2016

US real GDP for Q1-2016 had its third and final revision in this reporting cycle, and was +1.1% on an annualized basis compared to Q4-2015. Q1 had been reported as +0.5% in its advance report, +0.8% in the preliminary report, and now as +1.1%. Real GDP remains very low compared to the post-WW2 +3.3% rate.

 

Premium Content Mixed Signals, Chaos, and Bureaucracy

Published June 27, 2016

Last week, the polls were wrong and Brexit rattled the markets. But the people most worried were central planning bureaucrats who wonder how to make sure it never happens again. The number of business establishments and microbusinesses are still growing. Durable goods orders send another recession signal. It’s another week of mixed and mixed up signals, something economists like because it makes them look busy.

 

Industrial Production Continues its Negative Turn

Published June 23, 2016

The Fed’s own data probably caused them to have a more dour outlook about the economy. The chart shows that US industrial production started slowing at the end of 2014 and has been in outright contraction since Fall 2015.

 

The Fed Backs Off – No Increase, More Worry

Published June 23, 2016

The Federal Reserve’s latest statement shows continued befuddlement about why they can’t get inflation moving higher and why the raw numbers of employment are weak. So they called a time out and will wait for things to change.

 

Print: The Antidote for Ad Blocking?

Published June 23, 2016

Is this print’s chance to make a flanking move into the marketing budget. The eMarketer analyst says “Ad blocking is a detriment to the entire advertising ecosystem, affecting mostly publishers, but also marketers, agencies and others whose businesses depend on ad revenue.” He then says, “The best way for the industry to tackle this problem is to deliver compelling ad experiences that consumers won’t want to block.”

 

Advertising Rebounds in Q1-2016 v 2015; Publishing Still Struggles

Published June 16, 2016

Advertising agency had a much better first quarter than last year, up by nearly $3.9 billion on an inflation-adjusted basis (+16.5%) according to the most recent Quarterly Services Survey. Advertising revenues had slipped in 2014 and 2015, in similar pattern to the decline in durable goods and other manufacturing orders and shipments.

 

Prices for Advertising Rise for Magazines, Stable for TV and Newspapers, Down for Digital

Published June 16, 2016

The chart shows that magazine advertising has gone up by more than 20% since 2010, but it's hard to know how much might have been bundled in those prices. Pricing reports sent to the Bureau of Labor Statistics are supposed to be in constant units, but it's hard to determine those in service environments, and it's hard to quantify a wink or a nod in an advertising agreement.

 

Get Linked Into What Dr. Joe's Reading Lately

Published June 16, 2016

Dr Joe on Microsoft buying LinkedIn, restaurant kiosks, investments in rewards programs, mapping GDP.

 

Smaller Printers Are Giants in Profits

Published June 9, 2016

The changes in the media markets led to the declines in magazines, catalogs, newspaper inserts, and many of the products produced by large printing organizations. For years, these companies were giants in the industry, but recently this sector has been restructuring through consolidations. Writedowns in goodwill and for closed plants have cut the profits of these organizations.

 

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