The Fed took a look at the economy last week and panicked. In printing industry terms, they increased their run lengths and their page counts, and there's more money printing on the way. It's not much, just $1.4 trillion. What's a few billion dollars amongst friends?
Dr. Joe explains last Friday's employment report, takes a look at employment in our industry, and explains why ad agency revenues are going up when everything else seems to be going down. Speaking of down, sit down before you read his comments about the latest recovery indicators. Yes, Dr. Doom seems to have infiltrated this column, again.
Don't be uncertain about the risks of reading Dr. Joe's column about risk and uncertainty. It's not often he gets to use the word “actuarial” in a column about printing. Everyone thinks they know what ROI means, but just one little letter makes a big difference.
Dr. Joe's glad he didn't buy Facebook stock, and explains why the company's stock price matters little to media decision-makers. And then there's the magazine circulation thing. Why is everyone so surprised that it's down? Yet again he rails about inflation, but at least he has some fresh new inflation multipliers to annoy company controllers and CFOs
Here Dr. Joe goes again, on another capacity rant. It's about two years since his last one, so we guess we should cut him some slack. This time he takes a slightly different look, or at least he says he did. You decide.
The recovery continues to limp along, and then the Commerce Department says that May printing shipments were just incredibly good. Sure, they tease us a few weeks ago by yanking $600 million in shipments from the first quarter in their annual revision, and now it looks like someone may have snuck them back into May when they thought no one was looking. Dr. Joe explains it all, including a great way to get back to sleep when insomnia hits.
The industry's hackles have been raised by Toshiba's No-Print Day, and it's ironic that the company picks a date with some historical importance for print to hold the event. Toshiba's thinking needs to be confronted, but engagement with their audiences is a more important action for our associations and our businesses.
Economic conditions are being twisted and distorted by the long-held biases of the business press. The charged political climate of an election year fans passions that magnify momentary small and nearly meaningless changes in economic data into cataclysms or triumphs. You have to step back to see what's really happening, or not happening. Small businesses can't choose economic conditions, but they can choose their means of navigation.
Dr. Joe is frequently asked questions at conferences, webinars, and by e-mail from around the world that sometimes turn into columns. This week, as a result of some of those questions, he explains why confusion is good, misconceptions start with ourselves, not others; how digital natives affect the workforce; and other matters. And then, there are those seemingly innocent news items that he puts into a different context. That Dr. Joe... he makes your head hurt sometimes.
You've heard it many times from many quarters: “Half of all workers don't pay taxes.” Dr. Joe has gotten tired of hearing this and offers a different perspective. He explores who actually pays taxes, why what you commonly hear about taxes is always out of context, and how the benefits of tax avoidance are immediate, predictable, and risk-free. That's exactly what the economy does not need. Everyone will find something to dislike in this column.
Dr. Joe tells us what drupa and other trade shows mean to the new capital investment patterns of our industry. He thinks capital investments are becoming more tactical than strategic, more continuous than discrete. This is a problem, because “capex” often locks in a vision of media markets, making it harder to adjust to market changes. Just what we need: Dr. Joe having visions again.
Dr. Joe tiptoes through the economic data, discusses the nature of efficiency and expansion, and then pontificates about channels that are not of the TV kind. Then he explains why a new high in a stock index is not what it seems. Did we really say tiptoe? Where are the tulips?
Procter & Gamble, tablet computing, and the S&P 499... Dr. Joe ties them all together and comes up with urgency and entrepreneurship and something about backbones. He even includes one of those really cluttered charts that he's famous for. It's just another Dr. Joe column, but this one might rattle the common wisdom when it doesn't want to be rattled... again.
Dr. Joe is back and he admits he was wrong. There's a season for everything, it turns out, but not the same ones there used to be. He explains how to be a hit at cocktail parties, and then wonders why we should care about economic forecasting, if at all. Sounds like he's been away from the WhatTheyThink pages a little too long...
Steve Jobs' passing created interest in his management style and the culture of the company he left behind. What management lessons apply for other businesses? Is print a commodity? Can print campaigns be too successful for their own good? One printer blamed its disappointing financial results on that very fact.
Dr. Joe explains the bearish outlook for the economy but explains how the advertising agency business has been rising and adding employees. It's important to know who your competitors are, especially in terms of an overlooked factor in decision making, the cost of failure, which sometimes trumps common sense.
Dr. Joe explains that another recession may have already started, and the thought of that may be all that's needed to create demands for more Fed easing and more fiscal stimulus. The NASDAQ is down -18% from the start of the December 2007 recession on an inflation-adjusted basis. The commodities and consumer inflation trends may actually be slowing right now. Yet again, Dr. Joe explains some of the economic workings that are contrary to the morning news.
Is it real? Is it current? No, we're not talking about philosophy or the timeliness of something, we're talking about financial data. Dr. Joe explains how to use national economic data when comparing your business performance to the economy. Use the right tool at the right time.
When things are going well, everyone feels like they're the genius who's making it happen. When things get tough, you have to actually be one. Right now, it seems that Apple is a genius, showing how businesses can transcend the tough economic situations they face. A curious sign of change in employment in agencies and design firms as they now exceed commercial printing employment . Dr. Joe told everyone to consider 2010 as breathing room and to use it to urgently reconsider and restructure. In 2011, it is the time to act. He explains that we have to admit that print is a specialty and no longer mainstream as we position our businesses and beloved medium for some hostile media shifts now underway.
Every month, the US Department of Commerce and Statistics Canada publish data about shipments of their commercial printing industries. US data are usually available 5 weeks after the close of a month, and Canada about 7 weeks after. The WhatTheyThink Economics & Research Center uses these data to develop forecasts of the industry on a current dollar and on an inflation-adjusted dollar basis. The inflation-adjustment shows a truer trend of industry direction. Canada data are also available adjusted for the exchange rate with the US dollar as well as on an inflation-adjusted basis.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Joe discussed the changes that are underway in media and the amazing gadgets that access them. He continues that discussion, revealing some astonishing data about technology adoption and the change in the economic relationship of advertising agency and commercial printing demographics. Urgency is the new mandate for the print business owner, according to Dr. Webb. That probably means you should read this column right now.
Dr. Joe takes a hard look at the nature of media, the costs and definition of journalism, and what cloud computing means. It's one of those eclectic mixes of data and information that the good Doctor has been known to conjure up. The brew is so big that it has to be spread over two columns! Watch for the next edition on July 11th.
The first quarter of 2011 continued a welcome continuation of profitability for the industry. The industry shakeout of unprofitable businesses, and the better management of healthier businesses continues to create an improved bottom line, but there are still great challenges ahead. The restructuring of the industry will be a continuing process in 2011 and beyond.
We wish April showers were dollars flowing into print businesses, but that did not seem to happen. Who would have thought that we would miss 2004-2008, looking at that period as a time of stability? One of our recovery indicators, the NASDAQ, seems to have relapsed and may be heading for rehab. Perhaps the wild and fun ride it had on Ben Bernanke's QE2 has now come to an end. It may not get another cruise until he pilots a brand new ship, QE3, but rumors of that cruise liner's voyage are just that-rumors. QE2's huge midnight buffet was nice, but the economic heartburn may take a while to pass.
What do Social Security checks, grandchildren, bedtime and doctors have in common? Dr. Joe explains it all, and has some suggestions about what the industry should be thinking about during summer vacations and summer shutdowns. He's on the "it's 1994 again" rant once more, so you've been warned.
Unemployment went up, but the headlines were happy. Commodities prices drop sharply, but how far they have risen seems to be forgotten. The Fed feels rewarded for its inaction, and Dr. Joe finds a silver lining.
March printing shipments were up, resulting in 12 consecutive months of increase. Dr. Webb explains how the easy comparisons to the prior year are about to end, and that the balance of 2011 will be about the same as 2010. He reviews the upcoming data revisions from the Commerce Department on May 13, the importance of inflation adjusting company financial data, and the shipment rates of Canada's commercial printing industry.
Things are never what they seem in economics, like how we paid $10.78 per gallon for gas in 1980. Dr. Joe explains the strange math that reminds us about the distortions of inflation and the wonder of ingenuity, and how news reporters unaware of them. Pepsi made a huge blunder with social media, but we should be encouraged by their mistake because it should inspire print business executives that they are just as smart as those Ivy League execs with all their market research reports. We may have the ultimate weapon: common sense.
Today's economic conditions make economists wish they had more hands and while making the common people more frustrated in their attempts to figure it out. Oil and food are rising in price, but the economy seems better in some ways with some reports of improving employment. GDP is still rising, but some industries are still suffering. Dr. Joe explains why just staying busy is not enough and that it's what you're doing that really matters.
Dr. Joe Webb has compiled reports on US commercial printing profits going back to 1995, and brings it all current to Q4 2010. This report examines the latest trends in shipments, profits and capacity for the industry, of which the Federal Reserve just made revisions going back almost 25 years. How does Joe recommend printers steer the course? What will it take to get the print industry out of the hole? Dr. Webb has insights that can help.
Dr. Webb looks at February's shipments, Canada's January shipments, and updated forecasts for the North American printing industry to 2017. There's an updated GDP Forecast model and commentary on why that model is not totally reliable for forecasting the print industry. Will the rest of 2011 be as positive as January and February? Dr. Joe discusses.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.