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Data Analysis

Welcome to the WhatTheyThink data analysis section. As a service to the printing and publishing industries, WhatTheyThink provides access to economic, trend and other data that is valuable to industry executives for strategic planning and other purposes. This is also an excellent way for industry executives to stay current with the latest trends. This includes proprietary data developed by our own Dr. Joe Webb, Director of the WhatTheyThink economics and research center, as well as data from a variety of partner sources.

 

 

Can We Trust Government Data?

Can We Trust Government Data?

Published: November 5, 2015

A recent academic paper published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Volume 29, Number 4, Fall 2015), “Household Surveys in Crisis,” illustrates the problems of government surveys that are used to make multibillion dollar and multiyear decisions of government and business.

 

Third Quarter US Commercial Printing Shipments Have Highest Growth Rate Since 1996

Third Quarter US Commercial Printing Shipments Have Highest Growth Rate Since 1996

Published: November 4, 2015

The US Commerce Department reported that commercial printing industry shipments are up for 16 consecutive months in current dollars compared to the same month of 2014.

 

Third Quarter GDP Not Good, but Better Under the Surface

Third Quarter GDP Not Good, but Better Under the Surface

Published: October 29, 2015

The advance estimate of third quarter 2015 real GDP is +1.5%. We much prefer the year-to-year comparison, and also without the fluctuations of inventories. Those figures, also indicated in the chart, are +2.03% and +2.18% respectively. Net inventories have been running very high, but in the third quarter were $56.8 billion. This figure was cut in half from Q2, and is close to the 2010 to 2014 average.

 

Recession Coming? Third Quarter GDP Looks Weaker than Experts Forecasted

Recession Coming? Third Quarter GDP Looks Weaker than Experts Forecasted

Published: October 22, 2015

The latest estimate (October 20) by the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model indicates that third quarter GDP will be +0.9%. That is, until the next data for their model comes in.

 

Pew Internet Survey Shows Social Media Use Up, Way Up, in Last Ten Years

Pew Internet Survey Shows Social Media Use Up, Way Up, in Last Ten Years

Published: October 15, 2015

The Pew Internet Survey has released their latest survey (free download) of social media use and the long term trends are striking. The organization started tracking use in 2005 when social media use was by just 7% of the US population. Now, 65% of adults use social networking sites. Our chart shows the increases by age group.

Ninety percent of those between 18 and 29 use social media, which is not a surprise. Those social media users who are 65+ has more than tripled from 11% in 2010 to 35% in 2015. The report includes data about social media use by various demographics including income, race, gender, community, and education.

 

Commercial Printing Shipments in Uptrend: 15 Consecutive Months of Growth, Best Growth Rate Since 1996

Commercial Printing Shipments in Uptrend: 15 Consecutive Months of Growth, Best Growth Rate Since 1996

Published: October 14, 2015

US commercial printing industry shipments are up for 15 consecutive months compared to the same month of the prior year.

 

Changes in Commercial Printing Employment by State

Changes in Commercial Printing Employment by State

Published: October 8, 2015

The chart shows the changes in the average number of employees per establishment in the US and large printing states. The average size of printing businesses in an area offers clues to the kinds of printing produced there and the history of the industry in that area.

 

Debt as a Percentage of GDP

Debt as a Percentage of GDP

Published: October 2, 2015

Many people confuse debt and deficit when they see it as part of the Federal government's annual budget. Deficit is the annual shortfall between a government's spending and its revenues. Debt is the accumulation of all of the deficits and surpluses of the prior years in that government's history.

 

Updated Printing Industry Capacity Utilization Data – Not What Everyone Thinks It Is

Updated Printing Industry Capacity Utilization Data – Not What Everyone Thinks It Is

Published: October 1, 2015

Even in the industry's most profitable and growing years, the mantra “there's too much capacity in the industry” was always heard. It's been a misplaced and inaccurate portrayal of the business, yet it persists.

 

Canada's Commercial Printing Shipments

Canada's Commercial Printing Shipments

Published: September 17, 2015

Canada's commercial printing industry had a small rebound more than three years ago, before that of the US, and has been on a somewhat steady course since. In US dollars, however, Canada's gains market have been erased recently with the stronger dollar.

 

Profits Per Employee Increase

Profits Per Employee Increase

Published: September 10, 2015

The nearly $15,000 profit per employee of 2000 may not be in the cards for the US commercial printing business any time soon, but it looks like this measure is headed to its second best performance since the end of the recession. Using the latest data for the second quarter of 2015, and adding the previous three quarters to create a full year, profits per employee seem to be headed to $7,700, a thousand dollars more than the level of 2014.

 

Improvement in Industry Shipments, Profits Improvement Elusive

Improvement in Industry Shipments, Profits Improvement Elusive

Published: September 9, 2015

The 4-quarter moving total of inflation-adjusted US commercial printing shipments have been increasing, but unfortunately profits have not. Q2-2015 four-quarter shipments are up +2.3%, but profits are unfortunately down for the last four quarters -10.8%.

 

Latest Printing Shipments Reflect Rebound

Latest Printing Shipments Reflect Rebound

Published: September 3, 2015

July's inflation-adjusted US commercial printing shipments continued to outshine prior year shipment levels. This was the best July since 2008 on a current dollar basis and since 2010 on an inflation-adjusted basis. On average, monthly industry shipments have been about $200 million higher than the year before. They are also tracking closer to GDP growth rates, a feat the industry has not done for almost two decades.

 

Recovery Indicators Mixed with Slight Downward Bias; Sluggish Economy Remains

Recovery Indicators Mixed with Slight Downward Bias; Sluggish Economy Remains

Published: September 2, 2015

Four of the six recovery indicators fell last month, but the non-manufacturing new orders indicator remained very strong. World markets had a rocky month, and the NASDAQ fell -7% since the last indicators.

 

US Commercial Printing Shipments Up for 14 Consecutive Months

US Commercial Printing Shipments Up for 14 Consecutive Months

Published: September 2, 2015

US commercial printing shipments were nearly $7.04 billion in July, a $392 million increase (+4.9%) on a current dollar basis compared to 2014. This was the strongest July since 2008.

 

Q2 GDP Revised Up, Bigger Rebound from Q1... But What's Ahead?

Q2 GDP Revised Up, Bigger Rebound from Q1... But What's Ahead?

Published: August 27, 2015

The first report of Q2-2015 real GDP was +2.3%, and now it's been raised to +3.7%, well ahead of forecaster expectations. On a longer-term year-to-year basis, the growth rate is +2.5%, still almost a full percentage point below post-WW2 average.

Longer term rate +2.5%. The effects of inventory increases is still a major factor in the growth, but there were other positives in the report implying that Q2 was broadly better than originally thought. There are concerns among professional forecasters that the inventory buildup will result in slower growth as those stockpiles are reduced. Considering that two thirds of the third quarter is almost complete, we know that international trade is being disrupted by currency and solvency issues in China and other countries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta GDPNow estimates that third quarter GDP will be at +1.4%. Please also note a recent chart where we showed important key indicators that have yet to surpass their recession levels from Q4-2007.

 

Per Capita Commercial Printing Shipments Stabilize; Forecast Models Project Levels to Continue

Per Capita Commercial Printing Shipments Stabilize; Forecast Models Project Levels to Continue

Published: August 20, 2015

The per capita value of US commercial printing shipments has stabilized at nearly $270, and the recent change in the direction of shipments in the last year or so has changed the forecasts. Forecast models place heavy weight on recent history, and that fact has changed the forecast for 2020 to remain at current levels. It was not long ago that the models forecast 2020 consumption at near zero, an unlikely outcome, but one worth pondering. Will shipments stay at these levels? That's unlikely, too, as media formats and loyalties are still changing.

 

Key Indicators that Have Not Improved Since the Recession and Recovery

Key Indicators that Have Not Improved Since the Recession and Recovery

Published: August 14, 2015

There are numerous data series that explain that the economy has never recovered from the recession. These are not obscure data series, but mainstream ones. Gross Domestic Product should be the standard for determining the status of an economy (thick blue line). Movements in GDP should be confirmed by other measures. This week's chart uses the start of the recession, December 2007, as the base, which is 100.

 

US Commercial Printing Shipments +3.5% for First Half of 2015, Exceeding Real GDP Growth

US Commercial Printing Shipments +3.5% for First Half of 2015, Exceeding Real GDP Growth

Published: August 6, 2015

US commercial printing shipments are up about +3.5% for January to June compared to the same period in 2014. The industry has been restructuring, as employment continues to decline. Usually employment and shipment levels move together in a tight range if not almost in lockstep.

 

Inflation Multipliers Updated

Inflation Multipliers Updated

Published: July 30, 2015

Inflation is supposedly tame, but if you're making comparisons of current year financial data to prior years, you still need to adjust for the years when inflation was not. The chart was created from Consumer Price Index data for each of the years specified. When looking at your company history, multiply your data for each year by the multiplier specified. This will give you an approximation for the effects of inflation on your business, and make your historical analysis, especially in the process of budgeting, to be more realistic. Adjusting your data, even in periods of claimed low inflation, creates a sense of more urgent action. Inflation means that to stay at the same level you actually need more dollars. Staying the same is actually a cut.

 

Year-to-Year Real Retail Sales Peaked in January, and Are Weaker Since

Year-to-Year Real Retail Sales Peaked in January, and Are Weaker Since

Published: July 23, 2015

June retail sales adjusted for inflation fell -0.6% compared to May. Month-to-month changes are somewhat volatile, so it's better to look at the comparisons to the prior year. The chart shows that June retail sales were +1.2% compared to last year, the worst comparison since March 2014. There are signs that the economy is slowing again. In the first quarter, real retail sales were +2.6% compared to the prior year, but this second quarter is only +1.6%. The economy always has conflicting positive and negative data, but this downturn in a key sector of the economy is likely to raise some eyebrows among economists and policymakers.

 

Is Small Business Slowing Down Again?

Is Small Business Slowing Down Again?

Published: July 22, 2015

The NFIB Small Business Index was released this week, “The weakness was substantial across the board, showing no signs of a growth spurt in the near future,” according to Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist. “Declines in spending plans accounted for 30 percent of the Index decline, and weaker expectations for real sales and business conditions another 20 percent. The deterioration in earnings trends accounted for about a quarter of the decline.”

 

Inflation-adjusted US Commercial Printing Shipments Better than 2014

Inflation-adjusted US Commercial Printing Shipments Better than 2014

Published: July 10, 2015

Commercial printing shipments have been much higher than they are in today's market, but the bounce off the lows of 2014 this year have been notable. The comparisons toward the end of 2015 will be harder to top since the industry started to show this bounceback at the end of 2014. The transformation of commercial printing businesses has been an arduous one, with volume declines of many mainstream products, but a rise in specialty applications. Those new applications are often based in digital printing, such as wide format specialties. There's also a new generation of print business managers who are not burdened by the myopia of history, where print was paramount. These executives and owners have grown up with computers and gadgets and have a better sense of print's new role in media communications

 

Interest Rates Have Rising Since the End of 2011

Interest Rates Have Rising Since the End of 2011

Published: June 25, 2015

We all know how the markets seem to panic when the Fed hints that rates will be rising soon, but they already have. That is, the markets have been pushing up the inflation-adjusted 10-year US Treasury since September 2011 by 420 basis points (4.2 percentage points). The rate is now the highest since June 2010, at 2.33%. This measure can be volatile because of the inflation adjustment. We used the year-to-year inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index for that reason. There are Fed governors who believe that they have great latitude to be patient with a rise in inflation since their target of +2% annual inflation has not been met. This means that they believe they have a cushion of “banked” uncreated inflation that they can use up before they move aggressively. Whatever the case, a 25 basis point rise in short term rates is not much, as they might actually be catching up to the marketplace that has already moved and the Fed is already lagging well behind it. They miss an important point. The CPI does not measure inflation in a practical way. If wages are stagnant (though a little better lately), a “mild” 2% rise can be a burden. Median household income is still 4% lower than its peak just after the recession started. A 2% rise in inflation plus the 4% lower income is a 6% difference. That's something that's rarely mentioned in the business press.

 

Ad Agency Revenues Still on the Rise, Up 40% Since Start of Recovery

Ad Agency Revenues Still on the Rise, Up 40% Since Start of Recovery

Published: June 18, 2015

Since the start of the recovery all the way back in mid-2009, advertising agency revenues have increased by +$32 billion, +40% since that time. There are many economic indicators that have never recovered (such as full time jobs) but ad agency revenues have blown through the pre-recession high of $91 billion and is now running at the rate of $112 billion annually. The agencies have had this performance because they are immersed in the media upheaval, riding and stoking the changes in communications formats on behalf of their clients. Wages have followed this shift in media, and has been documented by us before. The average public relations pay is about $10,000 more than the averaged of all agency wages. Book publishing industry revenues have stabilized, and trends of newspaper and periodical publishing revenues are still down, but at a lesser rate.

 

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