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Economics and Research

Welcome to the WhatTheyThink Economics & Research Center, where our Director, Dr. Joe Webb, collects, creates, and analyzes the economy, industry trends, and forecasts. Data are from many sources, including our own field research, and provide an overall view of the markets for content creation, print, publishing, digital media, and the factors that shape their future. The approach is often unconventional, and explores topics in ways executives need to ensure they have a richer view of their challenges and opportunities.

Our recent survey of U.S. commercial printers found great optimism, spotty cloud computing adoption, and rampant consolidation activities.

Printing Industry Data from the Economics & Research Center

Monthly Commercial Printing Shipments data series. View it here.

Industry Snapshot collection of regularly updated industry data about various measures of business activity. View it here.

Data Analysis from the Economics & Research Center

 

Commercial Printing Prices Less Than December 2007; Paper and Ink Higher

Commercial Printing Prices Less Than December 2007; Paper and Ink Higher

Published: February 4, 2016

Since December 2007, the CPI is up by +12.6%. How have the PPI for commercial printing, ink, and paper changed? Commercial printing prices are lower, -0.8%. This means that a commercial printing business has to increase its productivity and profitability to reward its owners and employees to make up for the loss of purchasing power they have in their paychecks.

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Recovery Indicators Show Economic Slowdown Underway

Recovery Indicators Show Economic Slowdown Underway

Published: February 4, 2016

The monthly recovery indicators were uneven again. The NASDAQ fell almost -7% in the last month, and ISM non-manufacturing new orders and imports also declined.

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4Q-2015 GDP Disappoints at +0.7%; 2015 GDP +1.8%

4Q-2015 GDP Disappoints at +0.7%; 2015 GDP +1.8%

Published: February 1, 2016

Real Gross Domestic Product (RGDP) for the US increased by an annual rate of +0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015. On a year-to-year basis, RGDP was up +1.8%.

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Cloud Product Usage in the Printing Industry

Cloud Product Usage in the Printing Industry

Published: January 28, 2016

The chart shows the percentage of US commercial printing establishments of all sizes and their responses to the question about the cloud-based services they use today. The question did not ask them their frequency or intensity of use, just whether or not they use it today. Some of the “non-users” may not even be aware that they are using cloud services, since some services run transparently in the background, such as backup services like Carbonite and others. Others may not be aware that they are using a VOIP phone system. Some cloud services such as Dropbox allow customers to brand their service so it looks like a company file sharing site. Generally, larger printers are using more cloud services than others, but the disparity is narrow.

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Consolidation is Somewhat Different Than Industry Common Wisdom

Consolidation is Somewhat Different Than Industry Common Wisdom

Published: January 21, 2016

Here are data from our survey at the end of 2015 where we asked respondents to identify the status of their companies in terms of consolidation. Generally, formal consolidations are executed by the largest print businesses, and small businesses close their respective shops and reopen a new business with new partners.

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NFIB Small Business Index Still Shows Weak Small Business

NFIB Small Business Index Still Shows Weak Small Business

Published: January 14, 2016

The latest survey of NFIB shows their index bouncing along the level of the early 2000s recession low, and down from the high prior to the December 2007 recession. Passing that level on the way up would have indicated a completed recovery of this sector but it just couldn't make it that far and break through. Using this indicator that means that small business did not emerge from the recession yet. Big business and the stock markets dominate the headlines, but small business remains the front line of the economy, and its difficulties are often hidden from view as being un-newsworthy. Its breakout above the bottom of the early 2000s recession took some time, and the recent trend in the chart looks like it's getting ready to fall below that again. It dipped below that level briefly a few months ago and climbed back out. Will it climb out again? It's worth watching.

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General Economic Data from the Fed

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