Remember that phrase, It's the economy, stupid? It's a memorable slogan that emerged during Bill Clinton's successful first run for presidency in 1992. Ever since then, but particularly in the last few meltdown years, everyone's talking about it--the economy, that is.
The folks who attended the Tatum networking breakfast meeting this week, yours truly included, were no exception.
Two and three years ago, it was economic blame for performance woes; at this very same breakfast one year ago, the kvetching gave way to such clichéd rhetoric as hunkering down, blocking and tackling, more aggressive marketing and sales, and of course, slashing overhead. Alas, while the economy was still the topic de jour at this week's meeting, the accompanying language was different: not quite ready to breathe a sigh of relief, but almost there; finally seeing signs of life; getting inquiries on some pretty good engagements; this should actually be a better year.
Spewing those and similar positive utterances was an investment banker specializing in M&A, several auditors, a D&O insurance broker, a management consultant, and others who principally serve middle market companies. In all, there were about 20 folks at the meeting, all similarly positive, with the exception of one--a lawyer specializing in restructuring and bankruptcies, who, because of the unemployment situation, believes the current euphoric feeling is temporary at best and feels we are in for a double dip. How the world has changed.
I, for one, would, of course, like to believe the majority. After all, we, too, are starting to feel a little better. But the question remains, could that one lone dissenter be right? Perhaps he is just trying to be hopeful, since in his specialty, bad economic times usually signal good business. And are the others truly feeling that their businesses are better, or are they in so much pain that they are being hopeful as well?
Our client, Steve Borick, CEO of Superior Industries, which manufactures wheels for most of the major auto makers, attended the auto show this week in Detroit. He said the mood was clearly up for this bellwether industry. But he asked, who do you really believe?
As 2011 gets underway, it looks like things are getting better, especially if we believe the majority. And perhaps if we will it, it will indeed come. We just have to wait a little while longer and see what Q1 brings.
-- Roger Pondel, firstname.lastname@example.org