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Archives: June 2009

Job Demand Stabilizes

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 30, Categories: Economy

“We are not out of the woods yet, but job demand has definitely stabilized since January,” says Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board. “Although there is some bounce in the monthly numbers, the number of online advertised vacancies has held steady in the last three months.”

CEO Readies Tiffany for Recovery

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 29, Categories: Economy

So are there any reasons for luxury retailers to be optimistic? Yes, says Tiffany & Co. CEO Michael Kowalski. I interviewed Kowalski recently for an upcoming magazine piece and he told me that Tiffany is approaching the recession conservatively ... but when the financial storm does inevitably clear, he feels luxury consumers’ spending habits won’t be permanently altered.

More M.D. Groups Get Behind Health Care Reform

Posted by: Greg T. Spielberg on June 26, Categories: Confidence

As the battle rages in Washington over health care reform, Americans are consistent in their desire for a public option, according to recent surveys. More important – for the...

More Economic Upgrades of China GDP Growth Forecast

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on June 25, Categories: Economy

New signs that China’s economic recovery is gaining speed have led to a flurry of optimistic revisions to GDP growth forecasts in the past week. First the World Bank...

The BusinessWeek/YouGov Optimism Index Explained

Posted by: Greg T. Spielberg on June 19, Categories: Confidence

Over the past few weeks you may have noticed BusinessWeek/YouGov’s Optimism Index on our Case for Optimism page. Our weekly index combines U.S. public opinion and forecasts from leading...

Forget the Recession? Microsoft CEO Says Innovate

Posted by: Roger Crockett on June 18, Categories: Innovations

“There’s never been a more exciting time for innovation,” Ballmer said. “The next 10 years are going to be as good or better than the last 10.”

Leading Indicators Suggest Worst is Over in the Economy

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 18, Categories: Economy

The Conference Board’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators jumped 1.2% in May on top of a revised 1.1% rise the month before, Northern Trust economist Asha G. Bangalore says. “This is the best back-to-back performance of the index since the November-December 2001 period,” she recounts. “The main message from these numbers is that an economic recovery is not too far away.”

Gold's Loss is Nickel's Gain -- Sign of Economic Rebound

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 18, Categories: Economy

As the economy has perked up, nickel prices have risen from below $5 a pound in April to above $7 now. Of course, the industrial mineral has a long way to go to get anywhere close to the nearly $25 a pound it commanded in the spring of 2007. But the gains, reported on by BUSINESS WEEK, are still encouraging to metal-watchers.

Inflation Fears Prove To Be Inflated

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 17, Categories: Economy

Restrained inflation figures, reported by the government, suggest the government policymakers have little to fret about on the price front, Northern Trust economist Asha G. Bangalore says in a June 17 analysis. That helped push up Treasury bond prices and makes it less likely that the Fed will want to hike its main lending rate above the zero to 0.25% range.

McKinsey Survey Finds Economic Sentiment Rising

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 16, Categories: Economy

“Executives have become notably more optimistic about their companies’ and their countries’ economic prospects since mid-April – but the outlook was so poor then that optimism must be tempered.”

Global Trade Rises for Third Month in a Row

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 16, Categories: Economy

In yet another sign that some key players are acting as if recession is on the run, more offshore manufacturers are shipping goods into the consumer-driven U.S. market, global-trade tracker Panjiva reports. The May trade data marks the third consecutive monthly rise in the number of shippers moving such goods, the first such Trifecta time since the firm began following this metric in July 2007.

Economic Downturn Eases, Even As Robust Recovery Eludes

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 15, Categories: Economy

“Things are clearly better today than they were three months ago,” the analysts say. “As Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, said, the economy appears to be ‘around the inflection point.’ The free fall of the last few quarters appears to have moderated and we are now experiencing a slower rate of decline. Nonetheless, there are few signs that we are back on a positive trajectory.”

Expectations Rise in Principal Financial Survey

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 11, Categories: Economy

Expectations that the economy will get worse by the end of this year are clearly diminishing. Only 18% of current workers surveyed believe economic conditions will worsen by the end of 2000, down from 24% in the first quarter of the year. Some 37% expect gains, up from 35% in the opening quarter. Among retirees, 24% expect a worse situation, down from 27% in the earlier period, while 31% expect better, down from 33% earlier.

Growing Bullish on Wall Street -- Sort Of

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 10, Categories: Investment

"Both the macroeconomic and investment environments are now much brighter than they were, even a month ago," writes chief investment officer Kevin Lecocq. "There has been a conspicuous recovery in many asset classes. Less obviously, but equally importantly, there are growing indications that output and consumption are not falling quite as sharply, setting the stage for economic recovery."

Innovating Through a Recession

Posted by: Peter Coy on June 10, Categories: Economy, Innovations

A sandwich just isn't a sandwich without the TANGY ZIP of Miracle Whip. If you don't know that advertising slogan it's because you weren't around in 1933, when Kraft launched...

Economic Optimism Index Climbs

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 09, Categories: Economy

The survey found that just under half – 45% -- of the respondents expect conditions to improve over the coming six months, compared with just 17% when they were last quizzed, in February. Some 62% of said they felt optimistic about their company’s growth through the balance of this year, up from 43% in February.

All in the Numbers: Check Prof. Rosling about Progress

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 08, Categories: Economy

If you doubt that progress has been man’s lot over time, take a look at the work of Hans Rosling. A physician and professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, he uses ingenious software and a keen mastery of statistics to chart societal gains over decades.

Rebound Evidence Grows

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 05, Categories: Economy

Cooper, no Pollyanna, points to signs of improvement in the U.S. housing market, rising consumer confidence and a rally in financial stocks to argue that the economies of the U.S. and Canada, at least, are bottoming.

Check out this blog: The Good News Economist

Posted by: Peter Coy on June 05, Categories: Economy

Eldon Mast beat us with the idea of a blog that accentuates the positive. He calls it The Good News Economist. The slug line: When all you read is...

Electric Car Superbatteries Surge Ahead

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 04, Categories: Energy

The materials developed by Argonne, which will be produced for battery-makers by BASF, can give batteries a 50-100% increase in energy-storage capacity. That can mean longer stretches between changes for small batteries in products such as cellphones and computers. For cars, the potent batteries could deliver far more miles between charges.

The New Times Square: Piazza for the People

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on June 03, Categories: Culture

So much talk of sustainability hinges on being less bad. Less plastic. Less packaging. Less resource use. But less bad isn't the answer. The true value comes from delivering more good. What the new Times Square represents is an eco hat trick: a win for pedestrians, for drivers, and the environment.

CFOs Feeling More Upbeat

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 03, Categories: Economy

Some 54% American CFOs recently polled in the Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey say they are feeling more optimistic about U.S. prospects than they were last quarter. A cheerier bunch, 63% of those questioned in Asia, are similarly feeling upbeat about their corner of the world.

Job Ads, Factory Orders Rise

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 02, Categories: Economy

“The May bounce in labor demand is a very welcome sign,” senior economist Gad Levanon said. “Over the last fours months, there are now about a half-dozen states where the drop in labor demand shows signs of leveling off and another handful of states show some very moderate increases.”

Global Trade Turns Up

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 01, Categories: Globalization

“In any other year, the March to April improvement would appear modest, but 2009 is unique,” said Panjiva chief executive officer Josh Green. “Frankly, we expected to see far worse numbers – and yet these numbers suggest we may have already hit bottom.”


BusinessWeek’s Joe Weber, Patricia O'Connell, Michelle Conlin, Frederik Balfour, Peter Coy, Greg Spielberg and Roger Crockett examine The Case for Optimism by looking past the financial turmoil and economic unrest gripping the globe to focus on the promising future that lies on the other side of this storm. We’ll chronicle the forward thinkers investing in R&D, launching promising new products, entering new markets, or implementing management and leadership.

See why BusinessWeek Editor-In-Chief Stephen J. Adler is optimistic about the economy amid the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

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