Thursday, May 26, 2005


Personal Note: Perhaps You Know Others Who Can Benefit

For thirteen years I suffered with prostatitis which is now considered by many to be chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). My happy experience beating CPPS has now been posted on the Internet at

Perhaps you know others who have dealt with this. Estimates vary, but about 10 million U.S. men will have to deal with prostatitis at some time. Many end up on disability. I did not want to be one of them, and luckily stumbled into what I call "the karate cure."


Dr. Doom Says "Cheer Up!"

Dr. Doom cheers us up: Much as we are concerned about the fortunes of our business, I remind myself every day that our "dead industry" will ship $90+billion of product this year. Tell everyone you see today that we're bigger than these manufacturing industries: apparel ($56B), textile ($37B), beverage ($71B), dairy ($76B), furniture ($75B), automobile ($90B), semiconductors ($85B), iron & steel mills ($77B).

Interest rates: The Fed is really worried about a housing bubble. Sure, just as construction is absorbing workers displaced in other industries. More importantly, the high cost of housing is forcing dollars to be spent is less-than-attractive areas, revitalizing them. Economic booms take a long time to reach neglected inner cities, and there is a risk that the Fed will cut off economic growth out of a fear for inflation. Yet again, cities will be sorrily neglected for the good of all... yeah, right. The last to benefit will be the first ones cut off in an economic slowdown. What remined me of this was this WSJ story "Housing Boom Starts to Transform Distressed Cities":,,SB111698873677942646,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
If the Fed keeps raising rates to pop the housing bubble (if there even is one), it's a reminder of the old adage "when elephants fight, the biggest losers are the ants." Let's hope after June's quarter point increase the Fed takes a long vacation.

GDP revised up: The advance estimate for Q1 was +3.1%, and the preliminary estimate was just revised to 3.5%. I didn't think it would go up that much as it looked like things were slowing a bit, but still growing. Recent revisions to employment data started to indicate the advance estimate was too low. My net new business indicator was very bullish: they still have trouble estimating how well small business is doing. I'm still expecting +3.5-4.25% this year overall.

How strong is the economy? State tax revenues are booming, at a rate 2x GDP growth.

Monday, May 23, 2005


WSJ Runs Excellent Section on Tech and Media 5/23/05

The Wall Street Journal had an excellent section in today's edition about technology and its effect on media.,,2_1153,00.html?mod=home_us_inside_today

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Neat Links, Calcubation Story

Got some industry spam the other day. Most spam is written by people for whom writing is a puzzle. This is one of the funnier ones I've seen, about binding equipment, or is it the emergence of slave trade in the printing industry?
"FOR SALE: Completely refurbished MBO Service Technician"
What's been done to him? Hip repacement and some dentures, perhaps?

Newspapers charging for content? Like they don't now?

Good story about the ups and downs of personalization,0,368973.story?coll=ny-business-leadheadlines

E-books need defending? I guess so.,1759,1817362,00.asp

I got a good laugh this morning at MAN Roland's announcement that their new press is available in 3150 configurations. I've seen these press releases before, they're the product of "calcubation," which is too much time alone playing with one's calculator. That means they're only 6,340 combinations behind Starbucks (73 menu items, 10 syrup flavors, 13 modifiers = 9490). Perhaps adding press colors, no not units, but presses in different colors would help them catch up. I'm sure Pantone will help.

Road warrior stuff:

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Inflation Tame, Stop Yuaning, Economic Data Misinterpreted, Flint's Non-denial Denial

The BLS released the inflation report and it showed what was expected for April. The rate was up 0.5%, but was no change excluding energy. Nothing we buy excludes energy, so it's not always realistic to ignore it. In this case though, May's oil prices are lower than April, and may yet head lower, so upcoming CPI data are likely to be quite good, and may even show deflation.

Despite a year of increasing interest rates, long bonds really have not budged. The gold price is well off its highs. Inflation is probably dead. The dollar is rising in value compared to other currencies. The Fed will keep raising rates, though they can probably stop now. Beware: a 2001-like slowdown is still unlikely, but the risk of one is increasing.

The Chinese yuan may be allowed to float, which may be a bad idea. It reminds me of my blog recently how Sen. Schumer, knowing the Treasury was negotiating this, made Secy. Snow look really bad, when Snow played this close to the vest. Now the story is out.
Snow statement
Treasury report to Congress
New York Sun editorial

Alan Reynolds disputes recent reports about how much slower social economic mobility has become, with a good statistical discussion. It can be found at . Economist Bruce Bartlett will be doing the same and I will link to that as well.

I don't comment about companies (unless they make bad software, I guess) but the funniest news story today was about Flint Ink. The company denied it was being auctioned, but it said "The company is not for sale" and at the same time it said to a reporter "We have been and are currently involved in a number of discussions; takes time to find the right complement and the right fit." The non-denial denial. Rumors have been around about this for months. Remember, Flint is a privately held company, and it's huge ($1.47 billion) in printing supplier terms. I wonder if the word "auction" was just misinterpreted or mistranslated. "Auction" is a word often used in conjunction with stories about bankruptcies. Flint is no bankrupt company. I would hope that people realize that "auction" in this case means "highest bidder" buying a successful industry legend that is still successful and market-moving. It's not embarrassing to be in a successful privately held company where the owner wants to cash out for any reason. Obviously market conditions have changed, and a new owner is one way among many of bringing new eyes to unfamiliar circumstances. Private companies, though, are not used to public scrutiny in business dealings, and that may be what we have going on here. Negotiations, especially those in early stages, are by their nature delicate, and even potential buyers like confidentiality so as to not tip a competitive hand, or to let other suitors know who else in in the running. But then again, companies have "leaked" situations "accidentally on purpose" to attract bidders and intensify negotiations. It will be interesting to watch this play out, that is, if it actually does. Many companies go up for sale, and are then withdrawn for any variety of reasons.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Small & Mid-Size Businesses and Print... and the Internet

There is such tremendous focus on big business and how they use media. More people have apoplexy about what GM and P&G are doing, yet the rug could get pulled out from the printing industry by what smaller businesses are doing with their media allocation plans.

In fact, most small businesses don't even realize they have media plans. They set a budget and kind of allocate it as they go along. This incremental decision-making results in expenses that are reviewed only at the next budget cycle.

Here's a report from Interland, a major ISP (so yes, you have to have a good researcher's skepticism in viewing this, but it does pass the "sniff test"), about how small and medium businesses are spending their dollars. The press release is at A PDF of tables and charts is at

Here's a quote from the release; I have highlighted in bold the items that are print-related:

"Topping the list were community relations (55 percent), Web sites (47 percent), followed by public relations/media coverage (31 percent). ...more than half of the small businesses surveyed now have Web sites in place, and a full 96 percent of those say their online identity is critical to their success." Other tools small-business owners cited included direct mail (26 percent), which just beat out the Yellow Pages (23 percent), followed by email marketing and newspaper advertising (both at 21 percent). Search engine keywords (18 percent), telephone marketing (10 percent) and outdoor advertising (10 percent) all broke the double-digit threshold. At the bottom of the list were magazine advertising, print coupons and radio advertising (all three at 6 percent each), and Web banner adverting (5 percent). "

I have long felt that the printing industry, especially the franchises (who all claim to be focused on small businesses) should have been in the forefront of building web presences for small businesses and showing them how to use the Internet. Now, they've learned how to use it without us.


Miscellaneous Musings

Consulting: There is no more cynical reporting of the world of consulting than in Dilbert. It gets to the truth about consulting much too often to be considered just a comic strip. Sunday's Dilbert was just hilarious. The topic is hourly consulting rates. I have railed against executives hiring consultants on an hourly basis for almost my entire career. Tasks are for others to do; consultants should be paid because they achieve something, meeting some predefined objectives. If they're just doing tasks, they're temporary workers, not consultants. Here's the link to the Dilbert strip of Sunday, May 16, 2005, sent to me by fellow consultant Bill Farquharson (

Experts: I've been so amused this past week where oil prices have been declining and experts are whining that the decline in oil prices is a sign that the economy is slowing. These are the same experts who said that high oil prices would cause the economy to decline, and something should be done to lower prices to keep the economy vibrant. Get it? Higher prices are bad. Lower prices are bad. See? Anyone, even you, can be an expert. Just say what's happening is bad, no matter what it is. #$!(*&^%&*()&^$^&*(!^&*!*%^!&*^*&&*(!!!!!!! I tried to explain this over the dinner table, and it got quite a chuckle. A requirement for experts seems to be that one should be suffering from bipolar disorder.

My 5/13 and 5/20 columns are free: My column at is normally reserved for premium access subscribers. Because the site has special sponsorship during the OnDemand show in Philadelphia this week, my column is free. See the 5/13 column at

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Is E-publishing Worth It?

The NY Times reported how e-publications and communications are replacing libraries in universities and colleges.

But do we really want to do it? This article states that e-newspapers actually use more energy than producing traditional paper newspapers. I always loved those counterintuitive and unexpected consequence stories.

Adobe's shutting down their digital media store!,1759,1815262,00.asp

But if we still use print, this article implies much of it will come from China

Perhaps print will still be needed to explain how to work those multimedia cell phones....

But then, here's a report that few people really want these devices...

But we'll need something to access all the information that's created (Oct. 2003 report from Berkeley; it's not that much out of date, very worthwhile)

Speaking of information, yours truly was recently featured in a short article in the April/May 2005 edition of My Business magazine, the publication of the National Federation of Independent Business. I give away one of my "trade secrets."

Monday, May 09, 2005


What is EPIC? Publishing in 2014

Strongly recommended viewing about the direction of media, very well done:

Columnist John Leo has some background you may want to read first:

Also check out "The Internet Tail Will Come to Wag the Magazine Dog" at

Friday, May 06, 2005


Small Business Still Chugging Along

As implied by the GDP rate being higher than productivity, and a string of good initial jobless claims reports, unemployment held steady at 5.2%, payroll employment was up 274,000, and February and March payroll employment was raised by 100,000 more. The household survey showed an increase in employment of 598,000! My tracking of net new businesses is now up to 71,500 per month. Compared to April of last year, net new businesses are up 14%. This probably means that the first quarter GDP estimate will be revised up as well. It's small business that's "doing it" and the mechanisms that track the small business economy used by the government are not that good. There's nothing like making the "experts" upset, and this report does just that.

Employment report

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Offshore = Not What You Think

This is the strangest "offshore" story I've seen. Some crusie lines have had the "cruise to nowhere" that goes offshore far enough to allow casino gambling. This is really creative, and it involves real work for real money!
Here's their site

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