The annual NFPA Industry and Economic Outlook Conference, held this year at the Oak Brook Hills Marriott in suburban Chicago, hit an all-time record of attendance with 312 pre-registered attendees. Driving that number was the uncertain economy—manufacturers are eager to hear where business pressures will come from over the coming years.
Brian Beaulieu, CEO, Institute for Trend Research opened by telling attendees that “time is precious,” meaning that they have about 2 to 4 more quarters on the upside of the North American business cycle. Before mid-2013, Beaulieu said, it is critical for manufacturers to figure out how to protect themselves for the next global downturn?
That next worldwide recession, he explained, will hit in the second half of 2013 and go through 2014. It will not be a huge downturn, but will be comparable to 1990-1991, in terms of severity. Then, the U.S., which Beaulieu called, “the stalwart of the global economy,” will lead the world out of the recession in 2015-2016-2017. (U.S. is 21.7% of the world’s GDP. China, in second place, is 10.5%.)
Further ahead, attendees were warned about the next “great depression”—a 10-yr period of no growth—which will hit between 2025 and 2030. Beaulieu encouraged business owners to sell their companies before then, and then joked that they could always buy the businesses back at a huge discount around 2033. He also commented that it would be ideal for people currently in their late 40s and 50s to make sure to be retired by 2025, or 2028 at the latest.
Other items of note from Beaulieu:
• The healthcare reform law will weigh the economy downward in the second half of 2013 and in 2014.
• Economics drives politics, not the other way around. As a result, “a Mitt Romney presidency changes nothing about the 2013 economy.”
• The stock market will do better if Barack Obama is re-elected than if Mitt Romney is elected. Under a Romney presidency, the stock market will go down markedly in 2013.
• U.S. dependence on foreign oil is declining, down from 60% in 2006 to 45% in 2011.