Copyright TIGERS Success Series

By Dianne Crampton

For over the past 3.5 years and counting business success has been tied to the plunging economy – both regional and global. That said I am continuously looking for good economic projections from credible experts to project what is in store for business and leadership futures.

We projected in 2009 that leaders should streamline their operations and get all their bottle necks out during the recession or be caught short when the economy turned around. Economists shed a bright light on our projections.  Here are some new projections for leaders who want to stay ahead of the game.

In the May publication entitled Themes on the Economy®, Chief Economist Diane Swonk writes about two types of economic changes, cyclical and structural. The first happen quickly. The second, structural changes, are by far the most important, as the effects can be profound and lingering.

Some issues you’ve heard about before, like growing federal deficits, the ongoing crisis in Europe and slowing growth in China. Those are still important, but Swonk includes additional changes on her top 10 list that we need to watch:

  • A mismatch in worker skills versus job openings is contributing to a slow recovery in the labor market. According to Swonk, “Some of the greatest skills gaps are occurring in occupations that require specific training, but nothing as formal as an associate’s degree, let alone a bachelor’s degree. The good news is that the gap between demand and supply in this area of education is closing.” That’s because community colleges are working with companies to design shorter, better-targeted training programs.
  • The nature of consumer debt is changing. Swonk warns, “Student loans are now the fastest growing category of consumer credit and represent the second-largest category of non-revolving credit.” Why? College enrollments have soared since the recession; also, tuition prices have skyrocketed following sharp cuts in government spending on education. Without jobs to pay off those loans, “the student loan market is a crisis in the making.”
  • Swonk also says that we’ve hit the fast-forward button on technology again. She expects the proliferation of smart phones, tablets and cloud-computing to jumpstart productivity and rival technological progress made during the 1990s. But the flip side of opportunity is risk, as in cyber crime. “Vast sums of money, along with our best ideas and government secrets, are being stolen by individuals and governments” hacking into our systems.

Emphasizing the positive, Swonk notes that we have time to address these changes and formulate strategy. For more details,  watch this video presentation.

Swonk’s firm, Mesirow Financial, is a diversified financial services firm headquartered in Chicago. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the firm remains independent and employee-owned, with approximately 1,200 employees globally. With expertise in Investment Management, Global Markets, and Insurance Services, Mesirow Financial strives to meet the financial needs of institutions, public sector entities, corporations and individuals.