Monday Report
Seeing Ourselves as Others See Us January 12th 2009




  • International Business Confidence
  • Gobal business confidence began 2009 as dark as it has ever been. While sentiment has improved a bit during the last two weeks, it remains near record lows. Businesses are nearly equally pessimistic across the globe and across all industries. Hiring intentions have turned particularly negative in recent weeks. Pricing power has collapsed, suggesting that deflation is a significant threat. The global recession is intensifying according to the business confidence survey results.
  • Semiconductor Billings
  • Global semiconductor sales fell by a massive 8.2% m/m in November to $20.8 billion on a three- month moving average basis. In annual terms, sales fell by 9.9%. This is considerably weaker than typical seasonal trends, if not for falling memory chip prices, annual sales would be stronger.
  • Factory Orders (M3)
  • Factory orders fell 4.6% in November following a downwardly revised 6% decline in October (previously -5.1%). This marks the fourth consecutive decline in factory orders. Orders excluding transportation declined 4.2% compared with October's 5.1% drop. Unfilled orders notched their second consecutive decline in November. The decline in factory orders is a clear indication that troubles in manufacturing are intensifying.
  • Job Cuts
  • December job cut announcements portend another poor month for the labor market. The number of announced job cuts declined in December to 166,348 from 181,671 in November. However, the number remains elevated, and the fourth quarter cuts of more than 460,000 were the highest since 2001. For the year, companies and nonprofits eliminated 1.2 million jobs.
  • Jobless Claims
  • Initial jobless claims decreased by 24,000 to 467,000 for the week ending January 3. This was far fewer initial claims than expected, though the number was not out of the ordinary considering the time of year. Holidays have been known to make claims more volatile than usual. Labor market trends have been generally pointing to persistent weakening.
  • Monster Employment Index
  • The Monster Employment Index gave up 12 points between November and December, falling to 131. This decline placed the index on par with its April 2005 level. The index fell 22% from a year ago in December, unchanged from November's rate. The decrease in help-wanted advertising was felt in all nine census divisions and in all but two of the 20 industries tracked by Monster. The large decline in the index affirms the mostly negative expectations for another dismal employment report for December.
  • Construction Spending (C30)
  • Total construction spending for November 2008 came in at $1.078 trillion, a 0.6% decline from the revised October total of $1.085 trillion and a 3.3% decrease from November 2007. Nevertheless, this decline was less than expectations. As in the previous month, private construction fell substantially, the main component of the decrease being residential construction. Private nonresidential construction and public construction registered slight increases from November totals. The recession is pushing down residential real estate construction but has only slowed nonresidential construction thus far.
  • Pending Home Sales
  • he pending home sales index fell 4% in November to 82.3, well below expectations for a modest increase. The decline places the index at both a new cycle low and 5.3% below its year-ago level. The preliminary index value for October was revised down significantly, from 88.9 to 85.7. The sharp decline in pending sale contracts suggests that falling house prices and lower interest rates are failing to attract buyers, and that existing-home sales will fall further through January.
  • Case-Shiller Home Price Indices
  • The housing market's performance remains grim, with house prices falling across all regions, according to the third quarter Fiserv Case-Shiller house price indices. The CSI price index declined on a quarter- over-quarter basis in all nine Census divisions. Prices in the Pacific West and Mountain states fell the fastest. Moreover, the price decline accelerated in the third quarter compared with the second. The West South Central held up the best. The decline in the national house price index also accelerated in the third quarter compared with the second.
  • MBA Mortgage Applications Survey
  • The MBA market composite indices ended mixed for the week ending January 2. The purchase index showed a healthy 7.3% increase for the week, whereas refinancing euphoria started to subside as the refinance index fell by 12.3% for the week. Overall, the market index was down by 8.2%. Nevertheless, the fall in contract rates has led to an upward trend in the purchase index for the past month that is a small glimmer of hope in the currently depressed housing market.
  • Chain Store Sales
  • Consumers cut back severely again in December although results were lifted from November by calendar effects and easier comparisons. Chain store sales fell 1.7% for the month according to the ICSC, compared with November's 2.7% decline. Combined sales fell 2.2% in the two months, the biggest decline in the history of the series back to 1970. Excluding Wal-Mart, sales tumbled 4.3%. Gasoline prices again were a significant drag on sales for the month, undermining sales at warehouse clubs. The few bright spots were discounters that sell food and drug stores.
  • Consumer Credit (G19)
  • Consumer credit balances fell by a much larger- than-expected $7.9 billion in November, to a total of $2.571 trillion. This drop was the largest recorded decline in the level of consumer credit, even exceeding August's steep decline.
  • Oil and Gas Inventories
  • de oil inventories increased by 6.7 million barrels during the week ending January 2, according to the Energy Information Administration, far surpassing expectations of a 900,000 barrel build. Distillate supplies increased by 1.8 million barrels, surpassing expectations of a 1.1 million barrel increase. Gasoline inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels, also surpassing expectations. Refinery operating capacity jumped from 82.5% to 84.6%. Total domestic petroleum demand fell. This report points to lower oil prices.
  • Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report
  • Working gas in underground storage decreased by 47 billion cubic feet during the week ending January 2. The consensus estimate was for a decline of 79 billion cubic feet.


  • The Limited Too and Justice
  • Tween Brands, Inc. trades as The Limited Too and Justice at 900 locations nationwide.
  • The stores, selling apparel, swimwear, sleepwear, sportswear, accessories and footwear for girls aged seven to 14, occupy spaces of 4,100 sq.ft. in community malls and outlet centers.
  • Growth opportunities for the Justice brand are sought throughout the existing market during the coming 18 months.
  • For more information, contact
    • Alan Hochman,
    • Tween Brands, Inc.,
    • 8323 Walton Parkway,
    • New Albany, OH 43054;
    • Web site:
  • Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries
  • Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries operates locations throughout AL, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV and Washington, DC.
  • The casual restaurants occupy spaces of 1,200 sq.ft. to 2,000 sq.ft. in freestanding locations, endcaps and inline spaces.
  • Growth opportunities are sought throughout Manhattan, NY during the coming 18 months, with representation by Branded Concept Development.
  • For more information, contact
    • Alexandra Turboff,
    • Branded Concept Development,
    • 115 East 23rd Street, 6th Floor,
    • New York, NY 10010;
    • Web site:
  • Faconnable
  • Faconnable operates four locations throughout CA, FL and NY.
  • The stores, offering upscale apparel and accessories for men, women and young boys aged six to 14 years old, occupy spaces of 4,500 sq.ft. in upscale regional malls and street fronts.
  • Plans call for five openings nationwide during 2009, with representation by The Greenberg Group.
  • Preferred cotenants include Burberry, Ferragamo, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuittan and Hermes.
  • For more information regarding Faconnable, contact
    • Steven Greenberg,
    • 1200 West Broadway,
    • Hewlett, NY 11557;
    • Web sites: and
  • Monro Muffler
  • Monro Muffler Brake, Inc. trades as Monro Muffler at 568 locations throughout CT, DE, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT and WV.
  • The automotive services centers occupy spaces of 4,500 sq.ft. to 8,000 sq.ft. in freestanding locations.
  • Growth opportunities are sought throughout the existing markets during the coming 18 months.
  • Typical leases run five to 15 years.
  • Preferred demographics include a population of 25,000 within three miles earning $40,000 as the average household income.
  • Major competitors include Midas, Tire Kingdom, Goodyear and Bridgestone.
  • For more information, contact
    • Tom Aspenleiter,
    • Monro Muffler Brakes, Inc.,
    • 200 Holleder Parkway, Rochester, NY 14615;
    • Web site:

  • Note: The following is clearly written for nonprofits, but much is applicable to all entities including public organizations

    Thanks Bob Springmeyer

    A 360-Degree Look at the Organization: Seeing Ourselves as Others See Us

    • Who should judge if a meal is good? The cook? The nutritionist? The restaurant critic? Aristotle had a good answer long ago: "The guest is a better judge of the feast than the cook."
    • There are 360 degrees in a circle, and the 360- Degree Look places the organization at the center of the circle and looks at it from the viewpoint of its many constituencies. In particular, the 360-Degree Look helps compensate for the board's limited view of how well the organization is functioning. There are several reasons for this limited view. First, board members often have only a little time each month to spend on their volunteer board commitments. Second, board members are often unfamiliar with the program area of the organization, whether that is pesticide research, early childhood development, or nursing home standards. Hopefully, board members do know about the needs and desire of the organization's constituents, but that may not be the case. Finally, board members often receive most or all of their information from the organization's executive -- not entirely a bias-free source.
    • Time for a Fresh Perspective?
    • In a 360-Degree Look, the board and the staff management team seek feedback from those who stand around the outside of the circle as well as inside it: clients, the community, volunteers, donors, funders, and staff. While such a project might be seen as threatening or overly time-consuming by staff, it's an infrequent project, done perhaps every five years, or when a fresh perspective is wanted. Having it led by a board-staff task force can alleviate staff fears and create a precedent for such board-staff teams. Like any project, a 360-Degree Look can get bigger and bigger; keep it modest and do-able.
    • The following steps can be considered as examples of ways to obtain input from a variety of constituents and sources:
    • Clients or patrons (the diners)
    • Program evaluation techniques are designed to determine the impacts of particular program interventions. A 360-Degree Look is more exploratory, more holistic, looking for how patrons and clients feel about what we do, and seeks unexpected insights. Consider holding one or two focus groups with clients or patrons, facilitated by an experienced focus group leader, where they can give feedback on current services and unmet needs. A more extensive client/patron survey can involve a written questionnaire, a telephone survey, or in-person interviews. Even as few as five or ten open-ended interviews can be provide new, valuable insights. Some example questions:
      • How did you first hear about Spruce?
      • What was your first contact with Spruce like?
      • What makes it difficult for you to use Spruce's services / attend Spruce's performances? What bothers you about Spruce?
      • What do you wish that Spruce did that it doesn't do now?
      • Spruce is thinking about asking patients for donations by mail / changing the matinee ticket price, etc. What would your reaction be to something like this?
    • Staff (the kitchen and wait staff) Consider asking staff to anonymously complete a short questionnaire to learn more about how they see the organization's strengths and weaknesses. Make it clear that this survey is one of the ways, not the only way, that the board is conducting the assessment. While a full report probably shouldn't be given to all staff, the staff will appreciate hearing back some of the highlights from what you find. Here are some sample survey statements: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
      • The Spruce Organization (fictitious name) consistently does quality work.
      • I am proud to be an employee of this organization.
      • I am embarrassed to be an employee of this organization.
      • The duties of my job are clear to me.
      • I have confidence in the staff leadership of this organization.
      • Most of the time, I have enough time to complete my work assignments.
      • I worry that our financial situation is unstable.
      • I am respected by my supervisor.
      • I am respected by people who report to me.
      • Our organization does too much/too little/the right mix. Please comment.
    • Donors and volunteers (the friends) Staff and board members can conduct telephone interviews with major donors and key volunteers, asking for feedback on how well the organization involves and informs them, and seeking perceptions about the organization's effectiveness. Here are some sample questions:
      • How did it come about that you are a donor to Spruce [or a volunteer with Spruce]?
      • You have many choices in where to make donations [or volunteer]. What made you choose Spruce as one of those places? vHave we thanked you appropriately? Too much? Too little? On time? Did you appreciate the framed poster we sent, or did you think it was an unnecessary expense?
      • Have our staff been appropriately responsive to you, in giving you information about Spruce's procedures, organization, or clients? What, if anything, do you have questions about?
      • If there were one thing you would like to see Spruce change, what would it be?"
    • Foundation, corporate, and government funders (the financiers)
    • Board members can conduct a series of telephone interviews with foundation and government program officers, in which a board member asks, for example, for comments on the quality of written proposals submitted, quality of communication and interaction with the agency, the organization's reputation in the community, and suggested areas for improvement or change. Here is an excerpt from a sample interview script:
    • "As you know from the letter you received last week, the Spruce Organization is conducting a 360-Degree Look at our organization. I'm a board member of Spruce, and I want to ask you a few questions . . .
      • How well acquainted are you with Spruce's programs and operations?
      • What do you think Spruce does very well?
      • Are there some activities you think we do poorly, that should be discontinued, or that need improvement?
      • How would you characterize the quality and promptness of our proposals and reports?
      • From your direct interactions with Spruce, what is your general impression?
      • If there were one thing you would like to see Spruce change, what would it be?"
    • Independent program and management evaluators (the nutritionists and the restaurant critics)
    • In addition to an annual audit by a certified public accountant, the board can contract with consultants to assess an aspect of the organization's programming or management. Such consultations can involve different components, such as an examination of personnel procedures or an analysis of organizational compliance with relevant regulations. Professional program evaluators assess human service and other types of programs both to find ways that the programs can be improved and to determine the outcomes of the agency's services and the impact on clients and the community. Facilities consultants evaluate your facilities to be sure they meet your needs today and in the future. Arts consultants look at the artistic quality of an organization and compare its strengths and weaknesses to others. Remember that restaurant critics aren't always right, but if they have a complaint it may be something that's easy to fix.
    • What's on the web about our organization?
    • Do a Google or Yahoo search on the name of your organization. Look at your Form 990 to see what you've told the IRS and the public. See whether and how you have been rated by one of the online charity rating agencies. Create a Yahoo Alert or Google Alert and get emails every time your organization is mentioned on the web.
    • Using the Information
    • The committee or task force that has led the 360- Degree Look has the important responsibility of making sense of all the material. For example, interviews with funders may reveal that grant reports are well written but often late; the executive director should have this feedback. There may be patterns of satisfaction and dissatisfaction among staff that can be useful planning information for the management team. An idea for change can unexpectedly show up from several different kinds of people -- such as a desire for an organizational name change -- and should be taken seriously by the board as a suggestion. The interviews may show that the organization is gaining or losing luster in the community; such a finding may bear further investigation.
    • The committee can make its report to a board meeting, perhaps with the staff management team present. Present it in sections and after each section, ask for reactions and ideas: is there something we should look into more closely? How can we celebrate good news?
    • Proceed with Caution
    • The information gathered in a 360-Degree Look needs to be used with care. The staff needs to hear critical as well as positive comments from clients, but they may not need to hear the exact wording of an overly harsh statement by an obvious crank. In addition, a 360 Look is not the same as an evaluation of the executive director. The information gathered may be best used in organizational planning, and only used in a secondary way in the executive director's annual assessment.
  • The 360-Degree Look doesn't replace systems for getting ongoing feedback. But the information you gather may help you decide to offer more fish dishes or pay more attention to the coffee being hot enough. You might change the way the dinner shift turns over. You might think to point out on your menu that you don't use any trans fats, and to frame a restaurant review for your front window. And remember that you can't please everyone. Aristotle also said, "A great city is not to be confounded with a big one."
  • Here's to a good year for all of us.
  • Source: Board Café - Blue Avacado,
  • Blue Avacado
  • Promote School Safety!

    Safe Schools/Healthy Students Program

    • POSTED: 12/30/2008
    • FUNDING SOURCE: Dept. of Education
    • ELIGIBILITY: LEAs, charter schools that are considered LEAs under state law, and IHEs
    • $ AVAILABLE: $30,900,000
    • MAX GRANT SIZE: $2,250,000
    • DEADLINE: 3/4/09
    • DESCRIPTION: Funds for integrated, comprehensive community-wide plans to implement varied activities that will create safe and drug-free schools and promote healthy childhood development.

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