However, the silver lining is that paper, although somewhat tighter than last year, still appears to be available. It is this availability factor that has kept printers from speculative buying, Paparozzi discloses. "I doubt that a real lot of speculative hoarding is going on. A majority of our survey respondents report that paper is still available. Until that number comes down significantly, I wouldn't expect to see speculative buying," he says.
Nor does Paparozzi predict a rerun of the mid-'90s, when the industry started to see a significant degree of inventory hedging to protect against supply disruptions. "Today, there are more efficiencies than there were five years ago, and more and more printers have gone to 'just-in-time paper delivery.' "
Although, he does urge some caution. Just-in-time is a wonderful strategy until there is a supply allocation. "We don't have to worry about that now because paper is readily available. But, it is something to be concerned about. If the day should come when there are significant supply disruptions, then printers have a problem. There is no full-proof management strategy."