While he loves computers, when it comes to dinnertime, Dr. Joe still prefers food. Seems the Fed would prefer we think otherwise. As far as understanding inflation at its core, a good meal can go a long way if you have the money for it. He takes a new look at a dead French economist. And considers the print execs you won’t see in San Francisco mid-April.
Dr. Webb comments on what the forecasting models are projecting for shipments out to 2017. The podcast also includes an analysis of how the industry has changed between 2000 and 2009 based on the latest data from the Commerce Department.
Reading past the headlines seems to be Dr. Joe's specialty since no one else is doing it, especially with last Friday's unemployment report. Printing shipments were up in 2010, and January was a strong month, but printing employment seems to tell a different tale. Beware of academics bearing jargon: Dr. Joe explains why “Ph.D.” sometimes, as the old joke goes, means “piled higher and deeper.”
Just as the economy seems to be improving, Dr. Joe is back with his Dr. Doom persona. He thinks it's justified based on the latest inflation and wage data, and makes the case accordingly. The pace of technological change seems to be independent of the economic situation, and while Dr. Joe suggests that caution is the economic watchword, he says that the continued rapid rate of technological change should lead to urgent and direct management action in print businesses.
Sometimes you see a lot by looking, according to famed economist Yogi Berra. Somehow, the labor statisticians’ “whoops” factor involves over-counting the number of employed people by a mere half million. Then they say unemployment got better, except, of course, for the parts that got worse. At least there was exceptionally good news from the Institute of Supply Management reports, the best in quite a while. Dr. Joe explains what printers should assume in their planning, saying that skill really matters, and that luck will have nothing to do with it.
December 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $347 million (+4.9%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +3.3%. This brought the year's shipments to $86.7 billion.
November 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $303 million (+4.2%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +4.2%. “This was a very encouraging month, and continues the consecutive gain in current dollar shipments for eight months,” explained Dr. Joe Webb, director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.
Dr. Joe digs into the details of the economy now that it's three years since the recession started, and eighteen months since the recovery started. Does it really feel like a recovery? The headlines of the various economic news stories seem to be quite different than reality, so Dr. Joe explains what's happening behind the scenes as he starts his ninth year with WhatTheyThink. And they said it wouldn't last.
The third quarter of 2010 continued a welcome continuation of profitability for the industry. It has had seven consecutive months of increased sales, but it's clear that the profits trend is increasing, but the long term sales trend is flat.
Dr. Joe must have a time machine, because all he wants to talk about is 1994. He wonders why the planning process used by companies large and small always seems to miss critical market shifts and reinforce the status quo, actually constraining the ability to change. What can make the planning process more effective and our companies more adept when the marketplace takes an unexpected turn?
Even something that sounds bad, like the number of printing industry layoffs due to bankruptcy, can be good if they're declining. Dr. Joe explains the sharp decline in the last four quarters and why it's very good news.
Sometimes you actually have to read past the first paragraph to find out what's going on, and looking at the tables of statistical reports with the real data leads to conclusions that are quite different than the headlines. Dr. Joe does the statistical equivalent of going into the kitchen to see how clean it is before believing a restaurant's reviews. You may have heard that there were elections last week, and that they might have been important. Keep it all in perspective, and don't get ahead of things. There's political chaos ahead that may only increase the uncertainty.
September 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.58 billion, up $248 million (+3.4%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +2.2%. “This continues the consecutive gain in current dollar shipments for six months, a welcome change for commercial printers,” explained Dr. Joe Webb, director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.
Dr. Joe has quite the capacity to cause an argument about most anything economic, especially capacity utilization. Perhaps the state of employment in our industry is showing an unexpected shift from the big printing enclaves to new areas of growth. This unusual finding deserves some further scrutiny. Magazines get a boost from the auto industry, which was a clunker until recently. The sideways movement of the economy is obvious again, but Dr. Joe was flying high on WiFi and gives it the thumbs up.
Dr. Joe explains what the numbers 30, 60, and 100 have to do with 2020 and our industry. Somehow, it all adds up. The unemployment report shows an “L” shaped recession, even though we are now in an extended recovery. See what 30, 60, and 100 have in store for us.
Dr. Joe explains the latest Institute for Supply Management manufacturing report in terms of its key components of new orders, prices paid, employment, and imports. The manufacturing side of the economy is still growing, but it looks like it's slowing down, and inflation is starting to creep into the system.
The educational aspects of the show floor at Graph Expo are an under-utilized opportunity that companies can use to better educate their staff. The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research certainly has taken its time in informing us when the recession ended and might soon be telling us the recovery is over. Dr. Joe explains it all, and even offers a review of Warren Werbitt's latest opus.
The second quarter of 2010 continued a welcome continuation of mild profitability for the industry. Much of the industry is still recovering from a very difficult 2009, and two quarters of profits can't really make up for that. But we're on the right track, even though there are still challenges ahead.
The only thing certain is confusion. If business is so bad, why does our recent survey of commercial printers show they are planning to invest? Newspapers announce plans to keep their print edition - but we learned of it in non-print media! Things are certainly confusing, and this column might raise the confusion to an even higher level of sophistication.
July 2010 commercial printing shipments were $6.87 billion, up $18 million (+0.3%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were down -1%. This continues the consecutive gain in current dollar shipments for four months, the first time we have had a period of that extent since November 2007.
How often have we heard that print is a trusted medium, that awareness and familiarity are goals of advertising communications, or that print is key to touching prospects or customers? The new communications market is filled with opportunities for print entrepreneurs, but going against the common wisdom of industry myths is an important aspect of the entrepreneurial spirit. If you believe it's important to embrace change to be successful, then start by questioning commonly-held beliefs about the medium of print.
Remember when people used to argue about a V-shaped recovery, or a U-shaped one, or even a W-shaped one? Dr. Joe kept saying the recovery was a lot earlier in the alphabet, and that letter was “L.” Recent economic data seem to be playing out exactly that way, with employment virtually the same as it was last year and GDP growth declining to levels that are indicative more of recession than recovery. Don't say you weren't warned. Yet despite all of the market pessimism, the printing industry seems to be righting itself and showing some signs of vitality.
June 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.2 billion, up +2.4% compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +1.3%. “This is the first three month gain in shipments on an inflation-adjusted basis since the period of October 2006 through April 2007.
Who's buying and who's selling? The print business has been consolidating, and we're certain there is more to go, especially with the popularity of "tuck-ins." Dr. Joe explains why "tuck-ins" are not about what you should do with your shirt, but how it has slowly been creating a more efficient industry.
The printing industry may be through the worst of its restructuring efforts, but we know there is still more work to do. Dr. Joe explains how the corner may have been turned about a year ago, creating a class of surviving businesses that are claiming revenue increases. Then he puts on the green eyeshades and discusses "bonus depreciation." Of course, his take on the issue is different than what you might have heard elsewhere. (Again?)
Months ago, Dr. Joe said we would have an L-shaped recovery, and indeed that seems to be the case. 2011 taxes are already playing into today's economy and creating unintended consequences. And then there's the Postal Service request for emergency price increases. Is it as out of touch with the marketplace as it seems, or is that just the way bureaucrats cry out for help?
May's shipments were up compared to 2009, and April's were revised significantly upward. This is the first time since early 2008 that the industry produced two consecutive months with shipment increases. For complete details see this month's printing shipments report.
Dr. Joe wants to start the economy booming again, and he offers a prescription he knows no one will heed. He also explains how small business owners make hiring decisions and some of the financial factors that roll through their minds as they do so. Just what we need... medicine no one wants to take, and a lesson in finance. The July 4th weekend can't come soon enough.
The first quarter of 2010 was a significant change compared to the same quarter of last year. The industry had a difficult time in 2009, and the profits that were initially reported for the fourth quarter of 2009 were swept away in a data revision by the Commerce Department. But 2009 was profitable, and this first quarter of 2010 was very encouraging. Profit levels are increasing, not because of higher market prices, but because of employee downsizing, and the departure of weakest printers. Dr. Webb emphasized that there are still challenges ahead because of the continuing growth of new communications that will affect the demand for print. We must remember that just because the industry may be having a tough time, there are profitable companies who are offering innovative services to their clients. The restructuring of the industry will be built on the entrepreneurial actions of these firms.
A man walks into a pet store, holding a bird cage by its handle, and approaches the counter. At the bottom of the cage is a blue parrot, claws up. The man and the clerk engage in some banter, not about the bird being dead, but how beautiful its plumage is. Why is it that “print is not dead” only conjures up some decades-old Monty Python sketch? Dr. Joe explains how just having a pulse does not qualify one for a new and dynamic communications marketplace... how new technology is conspiring to make us a craft industry, yet again.
April 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.05 billion, down -1.9% compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were down -4.1%. For the first four months of 2010, shipments were down -4.7% on a current dollar basis.
Double-dip usually means a diet-busting serving of ice cream. If ice cream is easy money, and the diet is the judicious use of credit, then it's another way to explain Europe's economic crisis. To paraphrase the old saying, “What if they gave a V-shaped recovery and nobody came,” might be what's happening to the economy. When no one's certain what's ahead, they focus on what they know.
The Department of Commerce revised almost 10 years of printing industry shipments data last week. The WhatTheyThink economic data elves dug into the data and explain what those revisions mean, what years were revised up, and which ones were revised down.
The unemployment report was released Friday, and though it was almost 10%, there was good news. Will it last? Print and GDP continue their decade-plus estrangement. Disposable income is not the money you throw away, but the money you can spend as you wish. Well, maybe it is the money you throw away. Unless something changes, some of that money will go to filling out forms. Nothing like bureaucracy as a growth business.
The first quarter GDP showed that the economy is growing, but that was compared to the fourth quarter. How is GDP changing on a year-to-year comparison? The GDP data are about the whole economy, but how is small business doing? Dr. Joe explains how a rarely reported part of the quarterly GDP data helps us judge the health of small businesses.
A rising tide makes everyone a genius, even the bad managers. The improving economy is a less powerful trend than the upheavals that digital media are creating. Capital investment by printers is being affected by consolidation, the upside-down condition of interest rates, investments in new media, and a shift in industry print processes. For those waiting for the old economic and investment cycles to repeat themselves, this will be disappointing.
The trends in industry revenues of advertising and publishing sectors each tell an interesting story. They get more interesting once iPhones, Kindles, and iPads are added to the mix. Dr. Joe explains it all, but may have more questions than answers, which might spell opportunities for print businesses.
The power of print. Print is vital. Print has had longer than a decade of power outage. Print is not vital, print is a choice, and sometimes that choice is "no." Now what? In this kind of environment, the printing business becomes more important than the print medium. How that all plays out is up to our entrepreneurs. Dr. Joe explains.
The ISM Manufacturing Index is one of the most watched economic indicators. It's up for 8 consecutive months, and the latest release was one of the strongest of this decade. Dr. Joe gives some background and explains what this latest reading means.
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.