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Posts Tagged ‘Recession’

WAS THE ECONOMIC PANIC MANUFACTURED?

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 25, 2009

Here’s one for the conspiracists out there; please pause from your studies of UFO’s, Big Foot, the Loch Ness monster, Elvis, the JFK assassination and the Illuminati for a moment. I think we’ve got something MORE interesting for you, namely the cause of the current recession. I won’t deny it doesn’t exist, but some things just don’t add up for me; for example:

  • National credit scores are not as bad as we think. If so many people have defaulted on loans, you would think our credit score would be much lower than it is. It isn’t. As a matter of fact, the United States has a solid “B” rating.
  • All things considered, the stock market seems pretty resilient and is bouncing back faster than expected.
  • Inflation has been arrested and we are now experiencing deflation for the first time in several years, thereby lowering prices.
  • Worker productivity has soared this year and is now the highest in six years.
Originally, this recession was touted as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930’s (which lasted four to ten years depending on who you talk to). Economists though are telling us we are now emerging from the recession in the fourth quarter, which means it lasted less than two years, which makes me wonder if it was more of a “correction” than a “recession.”

Admittedly, unemployment has risen, the real estate market is still recovering slowly, and we have infused cash into struggling companies, but my question is primarily concerned with HOW this recession was started. I’m sure the real estate bubble and risky loans helped trigger the recession, but I suspect it was blown out of proportion for political purposes. The fact that it occurred during a presidential election year is too much of a coincidence for me.

A recession during an election year is not without precedence. For example, let’s not forget the 1992 recession which cost George H.W. Bush his second term as president. Keep in mind, his popularity during the first Iraqi war was very high, but in spite of his success, simple economics did him in. Unfortunately, Americans seem to have a short memory in this regards.

Let’s assume for a moment that I am correct, that the recession was manufactured to appear bigger than it actually was; what does it mean? If I was forced out of a job or saw my company disintegrate in front of my eyes, I would be vexed. Or if it forced me to lose my house, retirement portfolio, to declare bankruptcy, or if it ultimately caused the death of a loved one, I would be more than just a little upset, I would be mad as hell. It is one thing to panic due to natural events, quite another to induce a stampede for personal gain. If this is true, you have to wonder who is calling the shots. If it turned out to be a group of politicians, the media, or both, I think they should be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law or beyond, such as a good horsewhipping. Think about it, such a vicious plot would make Bernie Madoff’s shenanigans seem like child’s play.

So, come on all you conspiracists out there, let’s get with the program. We have a hot topic right here in front of us. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could really catch someone with their hands in the cookie jar? It would be fun, but not without risk, as such power would inevitably be greater than anything we’ve seen before.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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FINDING A RECESSION-PROOF BUSINESS

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 13, 2009

Finding a business that can endure today’s economic recession can be tricky. People are tightening their belts more today than in the past fifty years. We are seeing businesses close down, CEO’s being replaced, and some rather substantial cost-cutting measures, including salaries and employment. So you have to ask yourself what companies are thriving? Which ones are going to make it and which ones won’t?

No, I am not an economist, but it has been my experience that whenever belt’s are tightened, people start to think of themselves first and others second. In other words we start to focus on our basic human needs and worry less about luxury items. Let’s consider the effect the recession is having in a few key human-centric areas:

Food: Eating out at restaurants is diminishing, particularly the high priced establishments. In my area of Florida alone, over 35 restaurants have closed their doors recently. Not surprising, people are more inclined to cook at home, which means boom-times for value priced items. For example, I understand sales of Hormel’s SPAM product are way up. With this in mind, I wonder when the Food Channel will replace some of their gourmet shows with a show featuring something like, “Cooking on a budget.”

Health: Drugs are still doing fine, but people are more inclined to buy generic as opposed to name brands. We will probably see a sharp decline in cosmetic or elective surgery, but we will still need to replace hips, hearts, knees, and other vital parts of our bodies. I have a friend who manufactures titanium hips and knees. He tells me business couldn’t be better.

Transportation: As we all know, new car sales are way down which means people are trying to extend the lives of their current vehicles. This means companies selling auto parts should be prospering, as well as independent mechanics offering competitive prices. The airlines will always be viewed as a necessary evil but for any of them to succeed, they have to streamline their operations.

Communications: I think cell phones will hold steady, but look for people to change or eliminate their land lines. I have also seen a lot of people cut down on the pay channels on television, as well as their ISP connections.

Housing: Like the automotive industry, sales have stagnated which means people are trying to make do with what they have. And like the automotive after-market, look for the sale of home improvement items to increase, particularly those products designed to save energy and money. This should be boom times for basic hardware stores.

Education: Private schools will be hurt by the recession as people will be more inclined to send their kids to affordable public schools. This includes state universities over private colleges.

In a nutshell, the companies that will succeed are those that address the basic needs of the human being with no frills attached. Luxury items, such as electronics will struggle in the meantime.

But success will also require companies to manage smarter than what they have been doing. They have to think faster to seize opportunities, be more organized and disciplined in their operations, and be more adaptive to change. In other words I think you’ll see a “no frills” management style emerge as companies fight to survive. Those companies with bloated bureaucracies and micromanagers will have to be cut down to size in order to manage smarter.

So, what company is recession-proof? That which addresses basic human needs and is managed so the company can turn on a dime without missing a beat.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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