This is a little bit at odds with my previous post, “A Good Time to Shop.” In its January/February issue of Across the Board, the Conference Board summarizes the economic outlook for the coming year: The U.S. economy will continue on its path to recovery in 2005, it says, but the global economy can’t keep looking toward American consumers for indefinite support.
This is not unlike economist Jeffrey Garten’s comments at a CIO event in November, 2004. The bit on IT spending is also reflected in the CIO Tech Poll, which tracks technology spending trends. So business investment will continue to be a major driving force, the Conference Board says, with double-digit growth rates, fueled by huge cash flows and a search for growth.
The investment will comprise spending on information and communications technology and in the service sector generally, as well as spending on traditional plant and equipment in non-technology-related manufacturing that has languished for some time. These and other factors would normally make the outlook very promising, but the article says, “In the current context, however, there are underlying trends that are deeply troubling.” It goes on to explain (China’s looming power, consumer’s leveraged credit, national debt, etc.).
Executives (CIOs and CEOs) who tend to look beyond the next few quarters may end up conducting business more cautiously than the current conditions would seem to warrant. Your macroeconomic acumen may be figuratively stashed with your old school notes, but it’s probably worth dusting off.
(You might check out NYU economics professor Nourel Roubini’s Global Macroeconomic and Financial Policy Site (free registration required) if you do want to dig into the field. (I know, in all that spare time you have.))