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Fearless Predictions for 2007

Every year at this time, the mainstream press is duped by so-called “pundits” and “experts” who claim to have foreseen every major economic, technological and geopolitical event of the past decade, when in fact their track record as soothsayers is, shall we say, as murky as the cracked crystal ball they’re gazing into. Their predictions are lame, based largely on faulty logic and the pressure of getting their “Top 10 Trends” press release e-mailed out to every editors’ name on their contact list before the Christmas holidays interrupt the normal publishing cycle. And as everybody knows, the holidays for editors generally start the week before Christmas and last up until the end of the Super Bowl.

So if you sometimes wonder why in the world the newspapers and Internet news sites are so full of worthless, half-hearted speculations, the main reason is: Editors love these things because they can write a column based on these trends in about 20 minutes, or roughly the length of a typical half-time program.

Frankly, I think you deserve a higher caliber of predictions than that. So here are my own, guaranteed-to-happen, take-these-to-the-bank, manufacturing industry predictions as to what will happen in 2007. Remember, you read it here first.

Top Ten Fearless Predictions for 2007:

1. The new Congress will take a long and hard look at the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. However, beyond looking at the problems, Congress will do nothing to change the status quo. One manufacturing CEO, while attempting to explain why his company had to lay off thousands of workers, will claim it’s the result of a corporate “lean human resources” initiative. Nobody will find that very funny.

2. Fuel prices will continue to rise, although for a while they’ll seem to go down, but they’ll stay at a higher level than where they used to be, that’s for sure. Congress will blame the high prices on the oil companies, the oil companies will claim the demand exceeds the supply, and meanwhile China will continue to build more and more new cars for their growing middle class. Despite much talk about “alternative energy,” nothing will emerge as a serious alternative to fossil fuels.

3. The Detroit Three automakers will separately announce restructuring plans that coincide with their launches of “bold, sleek, modern, enviro-friendly” cars. Consumers will mostly be unimpressed. Toyota will again post record sales in the U.S.

4. At least one Rust Belt politician with aspirations for the White House will publicly rail against offshoring on the same day that a manufacturer in his/her home state announces plans to move its assembly base to Asia. The fact that it was the politician’s own policies that caused the company to go offshore will go unreported.

5. A large, well-known manufacturer will be acquired by an equally large, household-name manufacturer. Nobody will have seen it coming, until the day the deal is announced, at which point everybody will say, “It was inevitable that this deal would happen.”

6. A political action group on the U.S. West Coast will blame global warming on “every single manufacturer in the country,” and at least one second-tier politician will sponsor a bill to have manufacturing declared a dangerous and illegal activity.

7. Regulations governing the manufacture, transportation and disposal of goods will become so hopelessly confused that the government will consider creating a new agency, the Department of Regulatory Regulations, to ensure that all the agencies are in compliance with each other’s standards.

8. The United States and China will sign an historic trade agreement that promises to “level the playing field” for U.S. manufacturers. As a result of this agreement, absolutely nothing will change.

9. A major metropolitan newspaper will editorialize about “the death of manufacturing” in response to a government report that points to a steady decline in the number of production workers in the U.S. over the past decade. Elsewhere in the very same newspaper, a short item will report that productivity within the U.S. manufacturing sector is at an all-time high. The newspaper will not attempt to explain why it's possible for employment to decrease while productivity increases. Coincidentally, the following week, that same newspaper will lay off 20% of its staff, prompting an Internet news site to run an item on "the death of major metropolitan newspapers."

10. The best-selling business book of 2007 will NOT be this book:

But it ought to be.

TAGS: Supply Chain
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