Saturday, December 31, 2011

Career, Workplace, and Economic Predictions and Trends for 2012 and Beyond

My latest article (republished on offers my career, workplace, and economic predictions and trends for 2012 and beyond. HERE is the link.


Anonymous said...

Posting on New Year's Eve! True to form for the man who said he couldn't see taking a vacation longer than two hours.

Seriously, Marty, thanks for another year of great, thought-provoking posts and podcasts.

GLS said...

I think you're right on about retailers such as Barnes & Noble closing most of their stores or going out of business. Regarding B & N specifically, I don't know if it will happen in 2012, but if it doesn't, I expect the process will be well underway and we'll see it done by the end of 2013.

Marty Nemko said...

Yes, Anonymous, I can think of no better use of my time than writing. It's certainly better than tooting a hat and blowing a streamer, while wearing a silly hat.

mdubuque said...

Some superb work here marty.

You and I may be underestimating the risks to immigration reform.

The callers on today's show were vehement in their opposition to it and I fear the intensity of their views will fuel a resurgence in the fortunes of the Tea Party if immigration reform is attempted.

Also, one note. Undocumented illegals undeniably pay BILLIONS in taxes, so it is manifestly untrue to frame it as a "taxpayer/non taxpayer" issue.

Peer reviewed studies show that undocumented aliens pay billions each year in sales taxes.

We are all taxpayers.

Maria Lopez said...

I think that green technology's future will mostly be determined by the price of conventional energy.

Some types of shopping will continue to be offline simply because of the reluctance of individuals to pay shipping costs.

There is also the question of accountability. If talk to a salesperson at a brick and mortar store, I feel like I'm more likely to get help if something goes wrong with the product.

Finally choosing something out of millions of items is a pain. I might actually find the experience more pleasurable if I go to the store and choose from a limited inventory.

Finally, I take issue with the fear of redistribution. Too much of it is obviously bad, but I don't know if society is actually made wealthier by paying folks like hedge fund managers as much as they are payed. Also people are often paid a lot because their past work was good when this may or may serve as a marker of the quality of their future work.

I wonder if people should work on determining the neurological status of higher-ups with the intention of forcingthem to retire if they show too much amyloid or brain shrinkage. The assumption behind this somewhat silly proposal is that such people are paid a lot on the expectation they'll come up with good ideas in the future and if they are neurologically impaired they will be less likely to do so.

Dave said...

Thank you for this excellent article/forecast, Dr. Nemko.

Re: Manufacturing

Do you think the rising standard of living in China will contribute to a resurgence of manufacturing jobs in the US, or will corporations look to other countries in the region -- ie. Vietnam? The Chinese are buying cars and eating more meat. Higher standard of living = higher wages.


Marty Nemko said...

Dave, it's hard for me to see why corporations would, with exceptions, prefer to hire Americans over the many high-skill/high-motivation workers in low-cost countries.

Anonymous said...

Here's one of my predictions: American oil, natural gas, and coal power up. The epicenter of this boom is the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, which has a 3% unemployment rate. In Western Pennsylvania, where I live, the Marcellus Shale gas formation is going like gangbusters, keeping our unemployment rate 2 points below the US average. And these are just the tip of the iceberg, with new finds in Ohio, upstate New York, West Virginia, South Dakota, and Colorado, not to mention increased deposits being discovered in Texas and Alaska, and let's not forget about all that oil shale and tar sand.

Here are some reasons why:

1. The average age of engineers and workers in the oil/gas/coal industry is 50-something, so a wave of retirements will leave many positions open.
2. The public's change of focus on the economy vs. the environment.
3. Recent Republican wins make for a more amenable political climate for drilling. Also, if Republicans keep winning this year, that can only improve.
4. Enthusiasm for nuclear energy has decreased big time since the Fukushima incident. By no means will nuclear energy go away, but there will be fewer reactors being planned, permitted, built, and run, and we'll see more older reactors not being replaced.
5. Political instability in major energy producing places like the Middle East, Russia, Africa, and Venezuela is on the upswing.
6. New technologies that make it easier to get to formerly inaccessible deposits,and do so in cleaner ways.
7. Few people are still interested in oil/gas jobs because they don't know they exist or perceive them to be "dirty" jobs.
8. The limitations of "green" energy, such as solar and wind, are becoming more apparent.
9. Oil has been selling for between $75-$110 a barrel, which is the price point that makes drilling in the US profitable.
10. Governments at all levels are in desperate need of revenue and are more willing to issue permits for drilling and mining in hopes of tapping into the revenue they produce.

As far as jobs go, there are the obvious jobs such as miners, roustabouts and roughnecks that we first think of; but there are a lot of the behind-the-scenes jobs in engineering disciplines, like chemical, mechanical, and software, along with scientist-type jobs in geology, metallurgy, physics, and even biology. There are also many skilled blue-collar jobs from welder to CNC machinist. And as always, there are finance, accounting, HR, legal, and other support-type jobs for the industries involved.

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for your post re fossil fuels. It adds a valuable expansion to my brief mention of this issue.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the predictions, but No. 10's implications are way off base.
1. Fuel Cells aren't going anywhere (too much infrastructure that would need to be created
2. Conventional nuclear is not cost competitive, much cheaper to simply build a combined cycle natural gas plant. There may be two nuclear plants built in SC & GA, but that is not going to move the needle.
3. Earning for Solar companies are down, but that is because the cost for panels has come way down so they are becoming increasingly cost competitive especially in CA and the Southwest. Commercial solar on Walmarts and big box stores could be a great way from them to reduce their operating costs and get favorable tax advantages, especially as power prices continue to go up.
4. Refining coal is the least cost competitive alternative - Natural gas is going to replace coal as the dominant source of electrical power generation.
5. Regarding nuclear - more companies like Exelon are seeking extensions on their operating permits since most of them are expiring. These will likely be quietly be approved.


Marty Nemko said...

I appreciate the cautionary note re fuel cells. I was persuaded to include it because of this Deloitte report:

But yes, at least in the short term, fuel cells, will only be a niche player, and, only for energy storage, not creation.

Greg said...

1) E-commerce: Agree 100%

2) Immigration reform: No guarantee that this will happen. 50/50 at best. Growth of Hispanic population will probably continue.

3) US Economy: I wouldn't get too emotionally attached to the idea that the US economy is going to continue to crumble. You have been repeating the same thing for some time now. Despite all the problems you mentioned, I would not be surprised if the US economy does better in 2012...Once the financial system gets through its current de-leveraging phase, borrowing/lending should pick up again.

4) Agree, but these jobs will not disappear overnight.

5) Agree 100%.

6) Big unknown. China's financial system is notoriously corrupt and unregulated. There is a huge central planning scheme going on over there not to mention the environmental and educational problems. Having spent time there myself, I have come away with the impression that it may be a ticking time bomb...Growth will continue but at a slower rate.

7) Maybe for certain things, but the big difference between college/university and online/certificate/free courses is that there is no way to differentiate between good/bad performers, and the prestige factor is absent from online ed/community college. That is one of the main reasons why people invest in higher education in the first place. I can see this whole online ed thing being used in conjunction with traditional education but not as a stand-alone replacement. For example: It might help certain students lower their tuition costs, help teachers/professors improve the quality of education, lower education costs for universities, associations, and companies, and it may even become a growing threat to traditional community colleges in certain areas...

8) Somewhat agree. The telecommuting trend's continued growth will probably depend more on the availability and capability of the deployed software than people's ability to actually travel to the office. The Bay Area where you are might be an exception although since I don't live there, I can't say...

9) Sad but true.

10) Don't know enough about this...As Maria Lopez said, green tech's future will be determined by the price of oil, and right now, that looks to remain stable. Why would anyone invest more in solar/wind/nuclear/algae/fuel cell, etc. if the costs don't come down drastically or the price of oil doesn't increase substantially?

chris said...

Marty, I find your predictions out of touch with reality especially your prediction on President Obama re-election for second term. China is a mirage economically and a society full of problems run by dictators. Most of chinese people live in the countryside and cannot come to the cities for employment. China has no place to sell its wares in the future as you see in the economic slowdown currently in Asia in general. The illegals have to go home and get jobs in their own country - there will be no free ride for them. People who are not totally taken up with computers like to shop it is therapy for most women and you can't see how something fits on the internet. I could go on but I need to sleep for my job tomorrow in america not in asia...

Marty Nemko said...


If you look at the media's adoration of Obama and the Dems FAR greater sophistication in fundraising and electioneering (See for example, this week's article on that in Newsweek), you'll see some of the bases for my prediction.

Re China, not only is there the massive planned spending, as th China Daily reports, "Outbound Direct Investing for 2011-15 is expected to register double-digit annual growth to recing $560 billion, matching the nation's foreign direct investing, the Ministry of Commerce said."

Marty Nemko said...

Chris, also factoring into my opinion re China, despite the terrible world economy and declining exports into Europe thanks to its debt crisis, China's trade SURPLUS remains, down only 15% compared with a year ago. Its trade surplus for 2011 was $160 billion.

Greg said...

The fact that China is maintaining a trade surplus is not that significant. The Chinese government is actually running a 2% budget deficit. Deficits are not necessarily bad for the economy, but the problem in China is corruption. The financial system is funneling money into projects that may or may not offer a ROI. It's very lucrative for government officials and businessmen to siphon government funds into real estate construction projects even if those houses/apartments remain uninhabited.

Marty Nemko said...

Every economy, including the U.S's is not optimized. Too many other vectors other than economic growth affect a nation. The question is one of relative efficacy. And when one looks at all the factors affecting the U.S. economy versus that of other countries', it seems that it's worth betting on China, which I indeed have. Half of my savings are in China etfs: FXI and GXC. Most of the rest are in Vanguard and Fidelity S&P 500 funds and some Amazon and Teva stock.

mdubuque said...

Marty, I would point out that in a deflationary environment, which I think we are in, finding the most secure cash flows you can is the name of the game.

Right now, the markets believe that to be Treasuries.

Given the two trillion in excess cash that banks and corporations are just parking at the Fed doing nothing, it seems clear to me that they are more interested in return OF capital rather than return ON capital.

Just a thought.


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