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Commercial Printing Outlook : Don't Rely on the Economy

December 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor

Suffice to say, the 2012 presidential election did little, if anything, to assuage the fears of Americans who have grown weary of partisan politics. President Obama was reinstalled for another four years, Republicans control the House of Representatives, Democrats hold an edge in the Senate. In other words…status quo.

What do the results portend? Another four years of gridlock, perhaps, but minus a crippling recession (start rapping on the nearest supply of wood). But let's view the future with a shamelessly optimistic attitude and imagine that President Obama was right…the previous administration left too ponderous an economic dire straits to be rectified within one term, and that he can be the point person who stems the debt hemorrhaging. And let us take House Speaker John Boehner at his word, that the Republican party will take a more conciliatory approach to governing and work toward realizing a more productive Congress.

Now that we have the U.S. government all but singing "kum ba yah" in harmony, the question becomes: Will the U.S. economy take the express train to full-on, bona fide recovery? And, will the commercial printing industry follow suit?

The answer to both…no, not likely. Even if the stars align and politicians are able to put aside their differences for the greater good, recovery for the printing industry ain't a-happening in any meaningful way. Not in 2013. And, given that 2012 was fueled by a strong load of political printing, there's the belief that the new year won't be as prosperous as its predecessor.

However, all hope is not lost. According to the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), total commercial printing industry sales were projected to rise approximately 0.5 percent in 2012. It ended a string of four consecutive loss years, with sales dropping 0.3 percent in 2011, 1.7 percent in 2010, 15.0 percent in 2009 and 5.3 percent in 2008.

Andy Paparozzi, chief economist and vice president of the East Rutherford, NJ-based association, points out that sales are now 20.5 percent below pre-recession (2007) levels. As for the economy itself, Blue Chip Economic Indicators estimate that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow 2.1 percent in 2012, an improvement over 2011's 1.8 percent growth, but short of the 2.4 percent growth realized in 2010.

As for 2013, the NAPL expects industry sales to grow somewhere between 1.0 percent and 2.5 percent. Where it actually falls on the spectrum is dependent on prices; a firming of prices means the industry will finish in the upper half of the range, Paparozzi says. As for the economy, Blue Chip Economic Indicators estimate the GDP will grow only 2.0 percent next year.

 

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