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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 1181 articles

Premium Content Government Shipment Revisions Make Everything New Again (Not Really)

Published May 23, 2016

Eventually, the numerous economic data published by the Federal government are right. Like wine, it takes time. As businesspeople, we can’t always be that patient.

 

Printing Industry Shipments Revised from 2007 to 2016, with Minor Changes Since 2009

Published May 19, 2016

The years 2008 through 2013 had slight revisions higher; the end of 2013 to present had slight revisions lower. The Commerce Department's revisions to all manufacturing data are leading up to a multi-year revision of GDP data at the end of July.

 

One Printer Uses “Print is Dead” to Get Into the Minds of Content Creators and Decision Makers

Published May 19, 2016

One printer has taken the “print is dead” concept and is making presentations to communicators about how print works with digital media.

 

Manufacturing Still in Contraction

Published May 19, 2016

The latest Federal Reserve industrial production index showed a slowdown since late 2014 and an outright contraction since mid-2015 is still in process. The business press focused on the comparison to the prior month, which looked like an improvement. The chart, however, compares to the prior year. Recent consumer retail data have been more optimistic, and the premise that we had a “micro-recession” at the beginning of the first quarter seems to be justified. There is growing pressure to weaken the US dollar to make manufacturing exports less expensive to international customers. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow estimate for Q2 GDP is now +2.5%. At that rate, it would be a rebound from Q1's +0.5%.

 

Graphic Design Employment Up +6%, Agencies up +2.8%

Published May 12, 2016

Content creation is in a strong uptrend based on the latest employment data. Graphic design employment is up +6%, and has taken over from public relations employment as the surging area of hiring.

 

Dr. Joe's Reading for a New Day

Published May 12, 2016

Recommended reading from Dr. Joe Webb: It's the end of days for London's print newspaper New Day. Atlanta Fed's GDPNow Model Estimating Q2-2016 GDP at +2.2%, Lingering Effects of Recession, Justice Denies Staples and OfficeDepot... Again. Rubbing Sahl in an Old Wound

 

Premium Content Do You Have a Culture of Honest Data?

Published May 9, 2016

The latest employment report had analysts scratching their heads. One ugly report does not a recession make, and things may not be as bad as it seemed. It could just be the same old lackluster recovery. Joel Quadracci had some interesting comments about Quad's restructuring efforts that have a good lesson for all managers. Honest data can take a beating in politics, whether they're in elections or in business offices. Does your business have a culture of frankness in the way it reports information?

 

19 Consecutive Months of Improved US Commercial Printing Shipments

Published May 5, 2016

US commercial printing shipments have increased compared to the prior year for 19 consecutive months. March 2016 shipments were up +$85 million (+1.1%) in current dollars compared to 2015, and +$22 million (+0.3%) after adjusting for inflation. February 2016 shipments were revised up by $2 million.

 

What Dr. Joe's Reading about Apple, Digital Signage, and USPS Worker Mood

Published May 5, 2016

What Dr. Joe's Reading about Apple, Digital Signage, and USPS Worker Mood

 

Recovery Indicators Better than the Recent General Economic News

Published May 5, 2016

The recovery indicators are more positive than the general economic news. One of our indicators, the NASDAQ, is down -1.7% since last month. It's been on a rocky road for the last three quarters. Its recent peak was 5218.86 in July, and it has not gotten really close since. Stock market concerns have focused on a decline in the rate of corporate profits, and Apple's recent financial report did not really help matters. There was a bullish rise in non-manufacturing orders. Manufacturing new orders index might look like a decline, but it is still indicate moderate growth. Proprietors income, a measure of the health of small business, was up only slightly. Other reports of small business health have not been good, especially the recent NFIB Small Business report. This month's recovery indicators don't indicate recession, a word that is bandied about with greater frequency lately, but support the continuing unsatisfying levels of slow but positive growth.

 

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.

 

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