Friday, August 5, 2022

Mothers Still Aren't Fully Back to Work

 

Data: Indeed analysis of BLS data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Employment levels for mothers of young children are still lagging their pre-pandemic mark, according to a new analysis of women's economic recovery from jobs site Indeed, Emily writes.

  • And overall, women's employment has not yet returned to its February 2020 level — although men's employment has, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: Though women are almost back to where they were before — the reverberations of this era will linger.

  • Women who left the labor market missed out on months of job experience and paychecks — likely to weigh on gender wage disparities for years to come.

On the plus side: The shift to remote work and more flexibility for some workers seems here to say, and has been beneficial to working parents.

Axios Markets

By Matt Phillips and Emily Peck · Jul 19, 2022


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Mothers still aren't fully back to work


Mothers still aren't fully back to work

Data: Indeed analysis of BLS data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Employment levels for mothers of young children are still lagging their pre-pandemic mark, according to a new analysis of women's economic recovery from jobs site Indeed, Emily writes.

  • And overall, women's employment has not yet returned to its February 2020 level — although men's employment has, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: Though women are almost back to where they were before — the reverberations of this era will linger.

  • Women who left the labor market missed out on months of job experience and paychecks — likely to weigh on gender wage disparities for years to come.

On the plus side: The shift to remote work and more flexibility for some workers seems here to say, and has been beneficial to working parents.

Axios Markets

By Matt Phillips and Emily Peck · Jul 19, 2022


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Is the U.S. Labor Market in a "Demographic Desert?"

 Is the U.S. Labor Market in a "Demographic Desert?"

Walk down any street in the United States and you will see “Help Wanted,” “Now Hiring “and “$1,500 hiring Bonus” signs in all directions. While industries like airlines, restaurants and hospitality face extreme shortages of labor, shortages persist in about every segment of the U.S. economy. In May 2022, there were 1.9 job openings per every 1 person unemployed.


A few facts to consider:
  • More Baby Boomers are retiring every day. This accelerated during Covid.
There are currently fifty-two million people in retirement. This trend was exacerbated during the pandemic. In fact, there were 3.3 million more retirees in October 2021 than in January 2020
 
  • International immigration has been decreasing year over year.
According to the US Census Bureau, international immigration in 2021 was 230,000 lower than in 2020 and 324,000 lower than 2019
 
  • Gen Z and the subsequent generations entering the workforce are a smaller cohort than the Baby Boomers

  • Workers are NOT just staying home post pandemic.
The unemployment rate in May was 3.6%. The labor participation rate in May 2022 is now approaching that of February 2020. The exception could be women who are not returning to the workforce due to the high cost/lack of availability of childcare or those who, post-pandemic, have decided to remain at home and home school their children
 

These facts among other conditions do not bode well for a recovery of the labor force any time soon. Now, most demographers and economists who follow demographics are predicting a very tight labor market throughout this decade. Peter Zeihan, a geopolitical strategist, had the depressing prediction that, short of a major downturn or depression, he did not see the labor market “normalizing” until the children of the millennials enter the workforce.

What do you think? Is the U.S. Labor Market in a Demographic Desert? What are the economic implications? What do organizations need to do to adjust? Please comment.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Who Is to Blame for Inflation, 1-15

 


 

[Editor's Note: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” (H. L. Mencken) I am tired of people looking for a simple answer of who to blame for inflation. The attached article by Barry Ritholtz outlines 15 contributors to our current situation. While I don’t completely agree with the ranking and would add a few additional contributors, it’s a pretty good list. -dpm]

Who Is to Blame for Inflation, 1-15

Who is to blame for the rampant inflation the United States (and the entire world) have been experiencing over the past 12 to 24 months? Which individuals and institutions can we hold accountable for the highest consumer price increases in 40 years?

A variety of people have been asking this question lately. The last time we saw an issue generating this much interest and confusion was when the country tried to understand who was to blame for the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). The approach I used in assigning blame for the 2008-09 financial crisis was based on the premise that the world is complex and ascertaining actual causation is a challenge.1 We can use the same approach to the causes of inflation.

People seem to like simple, binary answers to complex questions. Econ-Twitter will tell you “It’s the Fed’s fault; Blame Biden, no, it’s Trump’s fault.” But the world is a much more complicated place, not easily broken into clear black and white answers — at least, if you value accuracy. Over-simplified faultfinding is more suitable for ideological slogans that fit on bumper stickers than actual economic analysis.

Prices change from moment to moment, but the factors that drive those changes can be years or even decades in the making. We tend to overlook this, caught up as we are in the here & now. The reality is many things have contributed to the current inflationary pressures.

Here are 15 or so drivers of rising prices, roughly in order. Most of the blame goes to those at the top of the list, the bottom of the list are very modest but real contributors:

Inflation Blame

1. Covid-19

2. Congress

3. President Biden CARES Act 3

4. President Trump CARES Acts 1+2

5. Consumers (overspent without regard to cost)

6. Consumers (shift to Goods)

7. Russian Invasion of Ukraine

8. Just in Time Delivery (supply chains)

9. Fed/Monetary Policy

10. Wages/Unemployment Insurance

11. Home Shortages

12. Semiconductors/Automobiles

13. Corporate Profit Seeking

14. Tax Cuts (2017) / Infrastructure (2022)

15. Crypto

Let’s delve into each of these:

Covid-19: The global pandemic – and the response by governments to the deadly and unknown pathogen – created a unique moment in history. A majority of the workforce was unable to go to their offices or workplaces. Essential workers scrambled to service 100s of millions of people stuck at home. This began a cascade of reactions that dramatically changed the structure of the economy, with lasting ramifications.

Without the pandemic, there is no massive fiscal stimulus, no WFH, and no supply chain disruption.

 Fiscal Stimulus: CARES Act 1, 2, & 3 represent the single largest government response to a crisis — ever. Unprecedented in size and scope, the first CARES Act was a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. Next up, CARES Act II was a $900 billion extension of the original stimulus and was signed into law by President Trump on December 27, 2021. CARES Act 3 (aka The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) was a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on March. 11, 2021.3 It poured even more fuel on an already smoldering fire.

 The first CARES Act legislation was the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history at more than 10% of U.S. gross domestic product; together with parts II ($900B) and III ($1.9T), and the fiscal stimulus was ~$5 trillion. This is almost seven times the amount of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $831 billion signed into law by President Obama in February 2009 in response to the Great Financial Crisis.

All of this fiscal spending was approved by Congress – so while you can argue over the apportionment between Biden & Trump, it is Congress that controls the spending of government, and so deserves much of the blame.

 Goods versus Services: The work from home (WFH) phenomena led to a shift in our consumptive habits: Fewer Services, more Goods. Out: Travel, restaurants, entertainment, vacations, elective (non-emergency) medical care. In: Everything that makes nesting, homeschooling, and WFH more tolerable, from computers and desk chairs. Home extensions and renovation led to a massive increase in demand for lumber, landscaping materials, raw building materials, appliances, and furniture.

The shortage of starter yeast revealed just how radically consumption had changed.

The pandemic lockdown moved the consumer towards goods and away from services. Pre-pandemic, consumers spent 38.7% on Goods, but a whopping 61.3% on Services. In 2020, the demand for Goods rose 20% globally, but production increases were barely 5%. Prices rose accordingly.

As an economy, we suddenly began buying food via Instacart/Amazon/Target/Walmart instead of going out to eat; we bought Peletons vs. a gym membership; we purchased large screen TVs instead of going to the movies; we bought cars and Winnebagos instead of going on vacation. Perhaps it’s a good sign that used Pelotons can be found on eBay for a fraction of what they cost new.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Foods and energy prices were already elevated pre-invasion, but Putin supercharged their prices. Until this war ends, energy prices will likely remain elevated as will grain and other foodstuffs.

Consumers: People driving during rush hour complain about being “stuck in traffic.” They are not stuck in traffic, they are traffic. A similar paradigm applies to inflation: Consumers who continue to buy Homes and Cars despite substantial price increases are not suffering from inflation, they are (in part) a driver of inflation.

Think about the purchases of homes or used cars, despite price increases that range from substantial to outright ridiculous. When you buy a good, despite big increases, demand can be described as “inelastic.” So you (over)pay an inflated price in order to get the necessitated item. It may feel like you’re suffering from inflation (just as in traffic) but recognize you are also a source of inflation.

Just in Time Delivery/ Inventory shortfall: In the relentless effort to become more efficient and profitable, warehousing inventory became anathema to corporate managers. This dramatically reduced inventory costs but required logistics and supply chains to be incredibly robust. As it turns out, they were not. [Mead comment: Too many purchasing mand supply chain managers violated Purchasing Rule 101 - Having multiple sources of supply. There were no alternate sources identifies and ready to scale up when the primary sources dried up.]

Semiconductors (Autos): Reopening a temporarily closed chip fab is a complicated expensive process. In 2021, the shortage of New and Used Cars was among the largest contributors to price increases.

Housing: We underestimated demand for single-family homes, and then underbuilt them for a decade. Suddenly lots of people wanted one. The large price increases on admittedly smaller volumes are the result. The Eviction Moratorium also plays into this; the unintended consequences may be that landlords are raising apartment rents in order to catch up on lost revenues from nonpaying renters from 2020-21.

For some context, BLS reports that in 2021, on the days they worked, 38% of employed persons did some or all of their work at home; 68% did some or all of their work at their workplace. Compare that to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic era on 2019: Workers were less likely to work at home (24%) and much more likely to work at their workplace (82%).

Wages: For the past 4 decades, the bottom half of the wage scale lagged dramatically. The minimum wage contributed to Deflation. But nothing is forever, and the circumstances of that power dynamic have turned. Workers,especially the bottom half of paid employees, seem to have gained the upper hand. (We discussed this in April of 2021).

Unemployment Insurance: When you give Americans $1.4 trillion in Unemployment, they tend to not want to work for $8 or $10 an hour. And, they form new businesses in record numbers.

Fed/Monetary Policy: ZIRP QE did nothing for inflation for a decade-plus, so it’s hard to have them at the top of the list. (I know this back of the list placement will infuriate Fed haters, but I am aiming for accuracy). But once the fiscal stimulus kicked in, the Fed was somewhat behind the curve. At the very least, thru should have been normalizing rates back in 2021.

Tax Cuts / Infrastructure: For the sake of completeness, I am including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ($1.1 trillion, annually, from 2018 forward) and the 2022 Infrastructure bill (minimum $1.1 trillion over 10 years). I do not believe these are big contributors to the current bout of rising prices, but it’s just that much more fiscal fuel for the fire.

Corporate Profit Seeking: I am not in the camp that seeks to place blame on rising prices in companies seeking to increase their revenue and profits. However, as a consumer of goods, one cannot help but notice substantial price increases in items that have very little to do with input costs, supply chain snafus, or semiconductor production shortfalls. While transportation costs affect all goods, some of the price rises we’ve seen are simply people taking advantage of inflation to raise their own prices.

You can’t have a capitalist system where companies, shareholders and their management are rewarded for profitability and not end up with some dubious behavior/profiteering on the margins. But I doubt it adds up to very much, best guess maybe 5-10% of the increases (if anyone has data showing more, I’d be curious to see it).

Crypto: Why is crypto on this list? 4 Because massive gains led to a series of big spends – from $100 million mansions as Hedge funds and VCs cashed in; but do not ignore the starter homes, where Redfin found “11.6% of people buying homes for the first time said that selling investments in cryptocurrency had helped them save for a down payment.”

Lamborghinis have been sold out for 2 years, and (anecdotally) crypto profits are driving at least some of that. Some of the larger dealerships are accepting crypto as a form of payment.

The world is complex, but the human mind seems to prefer simplicity, even at the expense of accuracy. As much as we want to point a finger at a single person – whether it’s for partisan reasons or simply as a way of expressing our angst – this is simply not how economies in the real world actually work.

The truth is we have many factors leading to higher prices – and some of them are showing signs of peaking.

 by Barry Ritholtz, June 28,2022

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Lessons my Father taught me

 Lessons my Father taught me

 
As we approach Father’s Day, I am preoccupied with thoughts about the memory of my father. While Dad passed away over more than 40 years ago, not a day goes by that I do not actively think about the lessons I learned from him. 
 
Here are some of the lessons in no particular order – and if you knew my father you’d know it certainly is not a comprehensive list.
 
  • Always leave it better than you found it - make a difference
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated 
  • If you keep your mouth open long enough, something unfortunate will come out     
  • Do your best and, if you keep trying, you’ll be the best
  • Do the important things first … and the less important will take care of themselves
  •  Do what you know is right
  • Never ever give up
  • The Lord helps those who help themselves
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • You are judged by the company you keep
  • There are no boring jobs, only boring people
  • Always do more than is expected
  • Never let a “wrong” go unaddressed
  • Learn something new every day
  • If you teach a person to fish, he’ll never be hungry
  • And the most important lesson: Most people see things as only black and white. The most successful people are able to see the myriad shades of gray.

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Benefits of a Strategic Business Coach (Why you may need one more now than ever)

 [Editor's Note: In these uncertain times, business and personal decision-making is very difficult for CEOs and senior leaders. We can never predict the future, yet we must make the best possible decisions, maintain a positive culture, and be adaptable and agile to changing conditions. This is especially true in the current uncertain environment of inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain issues. I hope you find the following article useful about the importance of strategic coaching.      - dpm]

Benefits of a Strategic Business Coach
(Why you may need one more now than ever)
 
Over the past few years, I have been asked repeatedly why The Mead Consulting Group does not promote the coaching we do with CEOs and business leaders. My response has typically been that the term "Coach" is much overused and "abused." We have not wanted to be lumped into the bucket of people who bill themselves as business coaches but who have limited or no real life business experience.
 
We have been doing strategic business coaching for many years.
For many years, helping company leaders execute and grow as leaders has been a core part of our DNA. Our entire consulting practice is built around helping companies reach the next level - helping them to get results. Leadership, communication, strategic thinking, setting priorities, motivation, team development, alignment, accountability, and personal development are all part of the process. These are developed by close interaction with our client's leaders. We refer to it as CEO coaching or strategic coaching, but in truth it usually involves the entire senior team.
 
My personal education with a strategic business coach. 
A recent conversation with a client brought back to mind my personal situation - when I was thrust into the CEO role by the death of the Founder. My best strategic coach was one of the Board members who took me under his wing. I was 27 and he was 73. He had lived quite a life, from growing and selling businesses to failed partnerships, lawsuits, large acquisitions, employee issues. He had forgotten more than most people ever experience. He was an irascible cuss and didn't suffer any fools. I was able to leverage his failures and successes and his incredible perspective. He helped me achieve my goals, and made sure I was prepared for almost any situation that came my way. He was the person who helped me understand the importance of developing and focusing on strategic plans that can actually be executed.
 
I saw an article a number of years back that listed some reasons why business leaders could benefit from having an experienced strategic coach. Long ago I turned these into my own list - which I will outline below. It is this same focus that our senior consultants bring to every one of our clients.
 
Benefits of a Strategic Business Coach

  • You gain a needed confidante
  • Strategic Business coaches force you outside your comfort zone
  • You get personal attention from someone who knows your business.
  • You hear the hard truth - that people inside your company won't share
  • You get objective, unbiased opinions
  • You learn how to turn your ideas into reality... Or hear why you are chasing too many shiny objects and need to focus
  • You are held accountable for getting important things done - focus on strategic issues not what shade of mauve the office furniture will be.
  • You get exposed to a huge external network
  • You gain confidence in your decisions and actions

If you want more information about how we help CEOs and business leaders continue to grow and accomplish their goals, please contact me
------------------------------
The Mead Consulting Group helps dozens of companies and organizations -like yours - every year with both strategic planning & execution, and strategic business coaching. These processes have helped our clients consistently outperform their competition.

If you would like to discuss your situation, please contact me to set up a complimentary meeting. Remember - our consultants have been experienced business owners, CEOs and senior executives who have been in your shoes. Our consultants have all been through uncertain economic times before - including periods of inflation - and can help you best position your company to thrive through these next years.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Common misconceptions about selling a business

 

 

[Editor's note: We have helped over 40 clients add value, prepare for a sales transaction, and execute successful transactions, ranging from $6MM to $350MM. Several business owners have asked us about this topic so we decided to publish this article again. - DPM]

 Common misconceptions about selling a business  

 It appears that we may be entering the next big surge in business transition activity fueled not only by the retirement needs of aging baby boomers, but also very successfukl growth for businesses over the last decade. The first baby boomers turned 75 years of age in 2020 and we are have entered the years with greatest numbers of boomers.

  If you are a business owner contemplating a sale somewhere in your future, consider these common misconceptions about selling your business.  

 ·     I know the buyer - they are in my industry.  Many business owners think they already know the prospective buyers - from their industry. However, in many cases where a sales process is conducted by an investment banker, an "outlier" (either a strategic or financial buyer) surfaces with an offer significantly higher than from those you may know. Many times these come from outside your industry.

 ·     The market will be better next year.  Procrastination can cost you. Sellers in 1999 or 2007 or 202 0 will tell you that they wished they had sold while the market was hot.

 ·     I don't want to sell until I have to (Dismal D's). You want to sell when your business is healthy and when you don't have to sell. Life can take cruel twists and turns. Business owners without a plan can find themselves subject to the "Dismal D's" - Death, Disability, Divorce, Dissenting Owners, Declining market, Debt overload, or just pure burnout. It is hard work to sell your business. You'll need plenty of energy and motivation to maintain performance during the sales process.

 ·     The investment banker or M and A firm will build value.  No they won't - that's not their job! A good investment banker can help you yield value, attract a broader market of potential buyers and get a deal closed, but they don't have the skills or background to build value. Some small M and A firms will offer services and advice in order to get your transactional business, but these are either young, inexperienced associates or people who have not really run a business. They are very good at selling your business, but what they don't know can hurt you. Beware of these firms that pitch themselves as one-stop shops.

 ·     My lawyer (or CPA) (or Wealth Manager) will help me find a buyer. Finding a buyer is very different than finding the best buyer, the right buyer. Investment bankers do this every day. Most professionals understand what they do well....and what they don't. Find the right tool for the job!

 ·     I met a guy in my CEO peer group /My investors know a banking firm. Selling your business may be your most important business decision. Get help in making an informed decision about selecting an investment banker or other professionals such as accountants, tax counsel, and transaction attorneys. Learn about possible (but undisclosed) conflicts of interest, differences between firms, level of expertise that will work on your company, etc. Have you checked with previous clients that were both successful and unsuccessful? Mead Consulting clients use a checklist of questions to help make the appropriate choice.

 ·     It only takes 6-12 months to exit a business. Nothing could be further from the truth. In order to realize the maximum value it may take you 1-2 years to prepare the business, 12 months to do the transaction, and then you may have to remain for up to 3 more years with the company after the sale. Rushing a company to market without proper preparation will cost you as buyers will discount values for companies without an adequate strategic growth plan, diverse customer base, strong management, or a clean review of due diligence issues.

 ·      Selling will only take some of my time. The biggest mistake business owners can make is to allow business performance to slip during a sales process. The primary reason for deals to either fall apart - or become heavily discounted - is because of deterioration of revenue and earnings. Business owners can dramatically underestimate the amount of time and energy it will take to both sell the business and maintain performance during the process.

The Mead Consulting Group helps business owners navigate through a successful sales process, including preparation, selection of the team (investment bankers, transaction attorneys, tax counsel, etc.), and the sale process itself. We focus on maximizing value and leverage the business owner's and management's time so that they can focus on maintaining business performance. Contact us for more information.   

 

Best regards,

Dave Mead         

  

 

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."  

_________

  

The future has never been more uncertain, but your business can always be prepared with flexible approaches to planning and execution

________  

   

How is your Execution in 2022 ? 

Is It Time to Make Adjustments for 2022? 

  __________________

 

Several of our clients had successful sales of their companies in 2021  

 Prepare to Maximize the Value of your business 

Before you go to see the investment banker, take the five steps to maximize value 

Contact us for more information

 

 

  ___________________