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Industry Insight

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

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: April 21, 2016

A Timely Reprise of a Dr. Joe Column about “Half of All Workers Don’t Pay Taxes”

This past Monday was the deadline for US taxpayers to file taxes and payments for the annual Federal income tax. Every year about this time, news articles focus on how few Americans owe and pay that tax. Dr. Joe says that’s incorrect. He explains how and why in this 2012 column. Nothing’s really changed since, but it’s a great campaigning line, no matter which side you’re on.

An article “Why Your Business Isn't Ready for Marketing Automation” caught my eye. It got me with the first two sentences: “Marketing automation can be a great way to streamline your marketing processes, but those processes have to actually be in place to begin with, before they can ever be streamlined. Without a solid content marketing strategy driving your business forward, your marketing automation efforts will be pointless.”

I immediately thought of two experiences. First, as a pre-PC MIS major for my masters degree, we were told never to implement an unhealthy paper system into a computer-based system. Second, getting companies ready for marketing automation is a great idea for printers, probably working with a marketing automation specialist. By leading their customers into this part of modern marketing, they can influence the media mix that results from it. But first, printers need to implement it in their own businesses.

* * *

A few weeks ago I mentioned a bubble in student loans. MarketWatch reports that about 40% may never be paid back.

* * *

The first official look at Q-2016 GDP will be next week, and it will be scrutinized for signs of recession. As I mentioned in a previous missive, the worst of recessionary economic conditions may have already happened, early in the first quarter, and may have already passed. There are other data that indicate just a slower economy, and not a recession. Whether or not that makes a difference may be determined by whether the effects of a downturn happens to you or a neighbor. This MarketWatch article explains why the decrease in corporate profits is raising red flags for many observers.

* * *

The Fed’s cautiousness in raising rates, and backing off the promise of four rate increases in 2016 has one financial leader showing concern. 

The full text of BlackRock’s CEO Lawrence Fink letter to shareholders is available online. This is the essential line about the actions of central banks, my emphasis added in bold:

“Investors today are facing tremendous uncertainty fueled by slowing economic growth, technological disruption and social and geopolitical instability. Particularly worrying is the adoption of negative interest rates by central banks attempting to spark economic growth. Their actions are severely punishing the world’s savers and creating incentives to reach for yield, pushing investors into less liquid asset classes and increased levels of risk, with potentially dangerous financial and economic consequences.”

Savings is what spurs investment; easy money spurs debt. When it doesn’t spur debt, it spurs the refinancing of old debt used to purchased goods manufactured a long time ago. Aside from saving the banks and spreading out economic pain over a long period of time rather than occurring all at once, the various monetary expansions and quantitative easings have been anything but stimulative. But that won’t stop anyone from continuing them because the alternatives feel like they might be worse. Don’t expect it to end any time soon. Focus on customer needs. Banking policy will be whatever it is.

* * *

Many of the economic indicators have been down lately, but some interesting data releases will get little business press coverage. These are worth watching. This month, the Fed’s manufacturing data will be revised going back as much as five years. Retail sales data will be revised for many years back. Manufacturing data from the Commerce Department will be updated on May 14, including printing shipments. Most all of the data series revisions from government agencies have lowered prior reporting. This is leading many economic statisticians to believe that the GDP revisions of late July, and covering many years, will show a weaker economy for the past three years than originally reported. We’ll be keeping a close eye on these for you.

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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