When will the recession end? When the printing recession end? How is the industry doing, all thing considered? What is the outlook for the industry? 

The answer to the first question, well, no one knows. The current crisis took many years to create, and it will take make years to extricate ourselves from it. That said, a macroeconomic crisis is not a death warrant for companies and individuals. Actually, it seems there is a cottage market in books and seminars that teach people “How to Make Money in a Recession.” But then there is also a market for people who think the world will end in 2012. So never fear: there is always a market for something, regardless of what the economy is doing!

Dr. Joe Webb and I have recently collaborated on the first installment of the WhatTheyThink Quarterly Business Conditions Reports. These reports will be produced once per quarter (being published the month after the quarter’s end—the first was published last week and covers through the end of Q2 2009), and will provide the latest general economic data from the WhatTheyThink Economics and Research Center’s constant, hawk-like monitoring of a wide variety of general economic indicators, from change in the GDP, to the Consumer and Producer Price Indices, to employment and unemployment, to proprietors income, to...well, name it.

At the same time, we provide large amounts of data on the current state of the printing industry, from the ERC’s own quarterly industry surveys to government data on printing shipments, profits, and employment, as well as those parts of the industry folks are surviving—and even thriving.

And dig (or Digg) this: we also provide Dr. Joe’s own hand-picked combination of economic indicators that he feels will provide the best clues to any impending economic recovery. Think of it as a “recovery roadmap.” The report also offer a new feature that we call “Dark Clouds and Silver Linings,” a list of both immediate threats to the industry as well as opportunities for industry businesspeople.

In addition to tall these data, we also look at current technological, cultural, and media trends that are affecting the printing industry. My standard line here is that bad economic times tend to exaggerate and accelerate trends that existed when times were good. As we’ve all learned over the past 30 years, the industry’s own business conditions don’t always gibe with prevailing economic trends, for good or ill. But it’s one thing to curse the darkness—or provide data on how dark it actually is (seasonally adjusted, of course)—but quite another to light a candle. As a result, this new series of reports is not designed to be the Dr. Doom Show, but rather to provide optimistic, constructive advice for companies hoping to make it through the recession reasonably unscathed. And in the debut report, we look ahead to what Print 09 will likely have in store.

For more information on this report, please visit the WhatTheyThink Store.