To get a picture of where we are headed into the future, I recently listened to the lastest update from Brian and Alan Beaulieu, world renowned economists with the Institue for Trend Research. Their forecasting accuracy rate is a reliable 94.7%.
According to Beaulieu, when you survey the world, you have to keep three megatrends in mind that are going to define economic opportunities in the future. These megatrends are:
- Demographics. There is a correlation between GDP growth and population growth. The U.S. is gaining while Japan, China and Germany are declining.
- Inflation. Trending up over the next 20 years. Countries that are rich in natural resources fare much better during times of inflation, while others struggle.
- Taxes. The unfortunate political truth is that you can't solve the budget deficit by raising taxes, but you can't cut spending without raising taxes. To be realistic, you have to expect tax increases to be part of our economic landscape in 2013 and beyond.
With those megatrends in mind, Alan and Brian made some general predictions about the next five years:
- Leading Indicators point up for 2013. There will be a mild downturn in 2014, but the key word is "mild," with up years in 2015-2017.
- Liquidity is not an issue. There will be no credit crunch like there was back in 2008 and 2009.
- Stimulative monetary policy. Dr. Bernanke's policy has gotten people to spend, which keeps the economy rolling along, but the bad news is that, eventually, it will lead to inflation and it has created an asset price bubble in the bond market.
- Employment is rising (companies right-sized). Unemployment will remain high, but there won't be any more mass lay-offs and firings.
- Banks are lending more money than they were last year. They will lend more in 2013. Now is a good time to borrow as rates will remain low through 2014.
- Retail Sales are rising. The numbers show that consumers are no longer afraid to spend.
- Construction is improving. Recent numbers show that confidence has been restored in both investors and individuals.
- Deficit spending continues. This occurs despite the much-feared "Fiscal Cliff," which is actually much more of a "Fiscal Slope." Taxes will increase slowly and over time, and Congress will compromise to find a halfway solution so that no one group is burdened with paying off trillions of dollars of national debt.
At first, the outlook can seem dim, as inflation reduces purchasing power and increased taxes reduce cash for businesses. But if you figure out now how you're going to fight this, if you look at your inventories differently, restructure employee compensation now and find ways to drive efficiency to stay ahead of your competitors, you can react in advance to prosper and profit.
It's a two-year process, and to do it, you start with your competitive advantage. What do your customers really value? Aim your competitive advantages to that. Aim your website, study, adjustment, sales approach, and marketing plan to protect your profit margins. If you aggressively pursue new customers, markets and opportunities now, then market share gains in 2013 can be used to offset a lot of the decline.
De Bear, Sydney. "Executive Street Insider." Forecasting Economic Trends for 2013 with Alan Beaulieu and Brian Beaulieu. Vistage Village, 4 Dec. 2012. Web. 30 Dec. 2012. <village.vistage.com/community/vistage_topics/buzz_blog/blog/2012/12/04/forecasting-economic-trends-for-2013-with-alan-beaulieu-and-brian-beaulieu?doAuth=true&uid=F8l6PsXKi%25252FP9fv0hSzoUQtRAo9IU4HPS