There is much closer agreement when it comes to projections for the general economy. The study’s findings also call for a slowing in GDP growth, in this case to 3.4 percent. (This, again, is a projected compound annual growth rate for the years 2000 to 2003.)

NAPL’s Papparozzi cautions that it is very important to keep in mind that this type of effort to fine-tune the economy is inherently risky. That’s because no one knows exactly how large of an increase in interest rates is just right to achieve the target GDP growth rate and, unfortunately, interest rates work with a very long lag, he says.

“Add to that the relatively recent developments of turmoil in the Middle East and substantial increase in oil prices. What happens in the Middle East is beyond Alan Greenspan’s control, and oil prices, like interest rates, work with a lag so it’s unclear how much of a bite the price increases will take out of the economy,” Papparozzi adds.

“While the consensus of opinion is that Greenspan will pull off the soft landing, these two issues may work to make the slowdown more dramatic. We just have to watch these developments very closely and, as an industry, be aware that after enjoying five years of a remarkably favorable economic environment, things are going to be slowing. We would be wise to begin preparing for the slowdown.”

No Longer Mirror Images
In the past, the growth rate of printing revenues closely tracked GDP growth. In recent years, there has been a divergence in the two numbers, which the market outlooks agree will continue because of structural changes that are reshaping the industry.

“Over the coming decade, the growing economy will continue to lift the entire printing industry, although the growth in printing will be slower than the overall growth in the economy,” notes the “Vision 21” report. It cites several reasons for the divergence:

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