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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's Economics and Research Center.

Recent Commentary & Analysis from Dr. Joe Webb

Displaying 1-24 of 1255 articles

Ad Agency and Publisher Revenues

Published March 23, 2017

Advertising agency revenues are having a slow rebound from their pullback in 2015. Publisher revenues are still having problems as ad pages and circulation are contracting. Clearly, agencies are finding other areas to garner revenues, especially in managing digital initiatives. Mobile communications are where their latest opportunities are, especially with website redesigns, creating the look and feel of content marketing for their clients, and assisting clients as they sort through the analytics that marketing automation offers.

 

Pew Surveys

Published March 23, 2017

It seems pretty clear that the last half of 2016 had a surge in activity for mobile communications.

 

Premium Content Economy Sending Conflicting Messages? Or Is It?

Published March 13, 2017

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” is the way the saying goes, and claiming some credit for a good job report on Friday was probably not wise. That old political rule of claiming credit for what happens on your watch though not caused by you has the underside of getting the blame for what you did not do. An important GDP forecast shows a very weak Q1, and the content creation businesses of advertising and design had declines in employment. Perhaps some weak economic conditions are what’s needed to get the Beltway’s priorities into the right order.

 

Premium Content Is Sales Dying?

Published February 27, 2017

Dr. Joe wonders what’s happening to sales? The number of sales people in the economy is declining, and they’ve been essentially replaced by computers and server farms. All those sales call reports have been replaced by analytics. All that T&A expense became electrons. Entrepreneurship is critical to a growing economy, but having the right context to the statistics helps put it in perspective. And then there’s trade. Can we change the subject? Some economists are finally writing with clarity about the topic.

 

Consumer Inflation for 2016 at +2.5%, Giving Fed Reason to Increase Rates

Published February 23, 2017

Consumer inflation for 2016 was increasing, with December’s reading +2.5% higher than 2015. December’s rate alone was at a +6.6% annualized rate. The chart shows the monthly comparisons as the blue line and the year-to-year comparisons as the heavier red line.

 

The Latest 2017 Index of Economic Freedom

Published February 23, 2017

The Heritage Foundation has released the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, one of my favorite resources. There are lots of data about international economies from the World Bank, the IMF, and others, but this is different, and is a great addition to that library. It includes insights into the regulatory environments of the economies, as well as the activities of black markets and corruption. The report is free, with a vastly improved interactive website, and downloads of the entire book or individual chapters. The list of country rankings is available on a page of its own. The top five are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Australia. Canada came in seventh, and the US fell out of the top fifteen for the first time, now ranked seventeenth.

 

Premium Content Even the Digital Media Markets are Changing in The Third Wave

Published February 13, 2017

Sometimes naysayers get it wrong, and Dr. Joe thinks that some of the digital media experts are complaining too much about digital media growth slowing down to “only” 4x GDP. He thinks what they’re seeing are the benefits of marketing automation and a deeper understanding of analytics and ROI that mean dollars are spent more wisely. What does that mean for print? Time to take a new role in a third wave of media change. Are you ready?

 

Employment Stalls; Printing Shipments Fall Sharply in December

Published February 6, 2017

The national employment data may have had a headline of +227,000 payroll jobs, but the household survey did not indicate the same. Every year, the report released in February includes revisions to the prior year. The press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that employment was “little changed.”

 

4Q-2016 GDP Slows to +1.9%, +0.9% Less Inventory Build-Up

Published January 30, 2017

The fourth quarter of 2016 ended quiently, with a growth rate of +1.9% compared to the third quarter. That brought 2016 to an overall growth rate of +1.6%.

 

Everyone loves Uber. But can the company survive?

Published January 26, 2017

Everyone loves Uber. But can the company survive? It's burning cash and piling up losses at an incredible rate, expected to be -$3 billion this year.

 

Real GDP for Six Presidential Administrations

Published January 26, 2017

A new administration is in Washington, so we created a chart that looks back at general economic conditions of the prior six administrations.

 

Premium Content Economic Data Close the Books and Open a New One

Published January 23, 2017

The torch passes from one administration to another. How should the new administration be judged for its economics? The economy has a lot of ground to make up and population demographics make its urgency all the greater. The louder one complains on the campaign trail, the more responsible you have to be. What's the real story behind the complaints about trade fairness? It may not be about trade at all, but about what happens after the deal is done.

 

Small Business Index Rockets Up to Mid-2000s Level

Published January 12, 2017

The NFIB's small business index came in at 105.8. It has had two months near-vertical increase, now at levels not seen since December 2004 when it was 106.1. It's sheer optimism that small business concerns about taxes, regulation, and the economy will improve. There are many reports about improved confidence, especially among consumers, but it seems like it's too much too soon. While the new administration might be able to provide some regulatory relief in its early days, most of its desired actions require acts of Congress. Those can sometimes take forever... or longer.

 

Trade, World Economic Conditions, and I Love Lucy

Published January 12, 2017

The new administration is taking aim at trade agreements and some trading partners. The fear about this is likely overdone, and the focus will be more on what happens inside those agreements as practical matters

 

US Commercial Printing Industry Employment Finishes -2.5%; Consolidation Effects Evident

Published January 11, 2017

The US commercial printing industry finished the year with 439,900 employees, down -11,200 compared to 2015. The number of production employees was down -3,100, a -1.0% decrease. Non-production employees represented the biggest change, down -8,400 (-6.0%).

 

Recovery Indicators January 2017

Published January 9, 2017

With the Dow Jones and S&P 500 at all-time inflation-adjusted highs. The recovery indicators are stronger than they have been in a while, with very bullish increases in new orders for manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, and a strong reading of the NASDAQ stock index.

 

Premium Content Third Media Wave May Trap Print Businesses

Published January 8, 2017

The beginning of the 2017 should be noisy from a political perspective, but the opportunity for distraction might be the biggest opportunity one can have. Stay focused as we're in the midst of a third media wave that may trap print businesses that have not prepared for it. And then there's the teenager who bought a newspaper. No, not a copy of a newspaper, but a newspaper business. This will be a strange year.

 

3Q-2016 Real GDP Revised Up Again; Did US Just Emerge from an Unrecognized Recession?

Published December 22, 2016

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its third report of real Gross Domestic Product, at an annualized +3.5% over the second quarter. This is considered the final report, revising the advance report of +2.9% two months ago, and +3.2% in last month's preliminary report. This is important because each release of GDP data is based on increasing amounts of actual reported data. The advance report relies the most on estimates and models.

 

Premium Content Technology is Powerful Stuff: Grab On or Duck

Published December 19, 2016

“It's not worth it for us” was the comment during a CEO panel that Dr. Joe attended, and that comment was about print. It was hard to take, but he wasn't surprised. What did the comment really mean? Does it fit with the unfolding new media allocation and shake-up ? Then Dr. Joe reviews the explosion in smartphones in information search and sharing, and how it exploded in the start of the holiday shopping season. What does it this mean for print, printers, and consolidation? Dr. Joe pulls it all together.

 

Commercial Printing Inflation-Adjusted Shipments Per Employee

Published December 16, 2016

The effects of consolidation, a challenging pricing environment, cost controls and productivity measures have sent shipments per employee to unprecendented levels. The prior peak was just before the recession began. The industry is more efficient in many ways, especially with the exit of weak and marginal establishments. But is it more profitable? In the December 15 webinar and in the new Forecast 2017 report, industry profit levels are discussed. Despite reaching new levels of sales per employee, profit levels have become tepid, a sign of tightening market conditions. In the webinar we discussed the possibility that another wave of media change is underway. The last major one was the rise of social media ten years ago, and now the growing impact of mobile media, especially this year.

 

Premium Content Trump Inside the Beltway: Foggy with a Chance of Chaos

Published December 12, 2016

The Presidential transition certainly has its uncertainties. Traditional media had a tough election cycle, and that creates concern what business information executives can rely on as they make their plans. Perhaps they should just keep their heads down and focus on their customers and let the fog and chaos run its course. Small business is very optimistic, it may be too early to be so, but that's not stopping them or the stock markets.

 

Q3-2016 Real GDP Revised Up from +2.9% to +3.2%; Little Change in Yearly Comparison

Published December 1, 2016

The Bureau of Economic Analysis issued its second estimate of real gross domestic product, raising it to +3.2%. Real GDP for 2Q-2016 was +1.4%. Each advance release of GDP data is revised monthly as “more complete source data” is used rather than estimates. We prefer comparing GDP data to the same quarter as the prior year, which helps minimize the variation and possible distortions of seasonal adjustments. Compared to last year, Q3-2016 was +1.6%. Because inventory changes can distort GDP estimates, we also look at the data less inventories, and it shows the economy still hovering around a +2.0% growth rate. Lately, the inventory adjustments have been small. Theoretically, they should be zero in the long run, and for these last two quarters that has nearly been the case. In 2015, it averaged +$82 billion per quarter. Some of 2016's sluggish performance has been an inventory adjustment in the overall economy. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow estimate for the current Q4 is running at +2.4%.

 

Premium Content Print is Good. So What? Print is Intimidating. That Matters.

Published November 28, 2016

Dr. Joe went to lunch and heard a three-word sentence that changed his Graph Expo and his industry conversations thereafter. When he said those three words, jaws would drop, but curiosity would rise. The three words? “Print is Intimidating.” And we always thought we were being nice. Find out why in Dr. Joe's column.

 

Fed's Industrial Production Index Down for 13 Consecutive Months: A Recession on Inauguration Day?

Published November 17, 2016

Will the newly inaugurated President Trump be dealing with a recession like his predecessor did? In December 2008, a recession was declared, and the experts said it started almost a year before then. Several economic indicators, like durable goods orders and factory orders, have been negative compared to the prior year's level for almost two years. The Federal Reserve's Industrial Production Index released on November 16 marked its thirteenth consecutive negative comparison to the prior year. The only sector that is holding up in the GDP reports is the consumer side of that bookkeeping. That can't hold up for long unless the production and investment side of the GDP ledgers start to perk up. There is optimism in the markets about a Trump recovery, but it must be noted that there are many legislative hurdles ahead, and most economic plans take about 18 months to develop notable impact.

 

Stuff I Said in 2008: How It Turned Out

Published November 14, 2016

Eight years ago we were changing presidential paths as we are today, and Dr. Joe had a webinar amidst that tumult of the freshly declared recession, jittery markets, and that upcoming transition. This week, he goes into the archives and reviews what he forecast – and grades himself accordingly. He even gave himself an F for one of the forecasts – how did he do on the others?

 

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