Back to the Future: Finding Historical Economic Forecasts

 

Business and economic forecasts that are past their shelf life, such as GDP forecasts for the year 2010 made in the year 2008,  might seem to be of little value.  But business researchers examine old forecasts to test their accuracy or to better understand the economic climate of a period. It is well known that forecasters almost universally missed predicting the “Great Recession” business decline of 2008/2009. For example,  The Economist’s  Poll of Forecasters for Jan 12, 2008 (pg. 89) predicted that U.S. GDP would increase 1.8% in 2008 and 2.6% in 2009.  GDP actually fell slightly in 2008 and was down 2.8% in 2009.

Here are some sources of historical forecasts that will let you exercise 20/20 hindsight.

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$1000s in Free Market Research—At the Library!

This post originally appeared in Wharton Entrepreneurship’s Blog:

As an entrepreneur on campus, you will be impressed and excited by the types of resources the library provides. Are you looking for trade journals to read to develop ideas; industry research to learn about sectors; demographics databases to identify customers; company directories to create a list of possible competitors; financial benchmarks to draft projections; or deal summaries to understand the funding climate? The library can help! We strive to purchase resources used across academic and corporate settings, including more than 120 business related databases, most of which are available to students, faculty and staff of Penn with their PennKey and password, anywhere they have an internet connection, through the library website.

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With so many resources, it can be daunting to know where to start! Fortunately, we’ve built in some help from theLippincott Library home page. Our Research Guides are authored by our business librarians and organized by topic. Our Business FAQ offers quick answers to commonly asked questions.  But the absolute best way to learn how to navigate our resources is to contact my colleagues and me at Lippincott Library. Send us an email at lippinco@wharton.upenn.edu, call us at 215-898-5924, chat with us, stop by the library, or visit us in Huntsman in GSR 251 from 12:30 to 1:30pm, Mondays through Thursdays during the semester. We can direct you to library assets most relevant to your topic, provide instruction on effective database searching and assist you in developing a strategy to find what you want.

Do you want to scour the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal every day to track trends and news? You can do that with Factiva.

Do you want to read trade journals about the beverage industry because you are interested in launching a kombucha tea business? You can do that with Business Source Complete.

Do you want to get an overview of demographics and spending behavior of America’s pet owners? You can do that with Mintel.

Do you want to get perspective on remote patient monitoring systems? You can do that with Marketresearch.com Academic. And yes, you are reading that correctly. That report is valued at $4200, and you have access because you are affiliated with Penn.

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The resources available through the Penn Libraries are vast. Save yourself time, and contact us to explore valuable information to develop your entrepreneurial ideas. You will wonder why you didn’t talk to us sooner!

Please see our Research Guide, Entrepreneurship and Small Business for additional resources.

Welcome to the Club!

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As a Wharton MBA, you have joined the first collegiate business school and a larger rank of professional business students globally. Who else is in the club?  What is the MBA presence in the world?  What does the MBA education industry encompass?

In recent years, the MBA degree has faced criticism from scholars and the press questioning its value, partially based on the number of MBAs that graduate each year.  The Atlantic published an article titled “There Are Officially Too Many MBAs” , and the Financial Times asked the question “Is an MBA worth the cost?”.

Beyond the number of MBA programs available, changing technology also has the potential to disrupt the MBA industry.  Wharton’s own Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich looked at the impact of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and specifically “SuperText” technology on the MBA degree and broader higher education in their report “Will Video Kill the Classroom Star?  The Threat and Opportunity of Massively Open Online courses for Full-Time MBA Programs”. Continue reading

Don’t Know Much About ‘Corporate’ History: Historical Company Research

Many times the type of company information we are seeking is current. Current information can be easier to locate because new strategies and innovative business models are written about extensively in the news, business journals, and on the web. Researching a company’s history requires a slightly different strategy. Below are some resources to help you locate historical company information.

A good starting point is in the International Directory of Company Histories. This e-book (also available in print) covers 11,000 companies. Each concise company profile is between four and six pages long and covers statistics, dates and key players, as well as other important information like expansions and company strategies. The information is gathered from reliable sources such as academic journals, books, magazines, annual reports, and the company’s archives.

Pages from jc penney annual report

Annual Reports are a good source for historical company information. The Management Discussion & Analysis (MD&A) section of the annual report provides an overview of the previous year’s operations and often includes a discussion on future prospects like goals and strategies for the upcoming year. Annual reports are available in several subscription databases. Use our Business FAQ “Where can I find current and historical annual reports?” for access. Also, take a look at our previous post, Gimmie that Old Time Financial Statement for a detailed overview on finding annual reports.

Applied Science & Business Periodicals Retrospective (1913-1983) covers a wide range of historical trade journals (e.g. Journal of Retailing) and business magazines (e.g. BusinessWeek, Fortune, etc.). Search within this database by company name. For a company like J.C. Penney, whose name often appears differently, search for variations on the spelling/punctuation (e.g. j.c. penney OR j. c. penney OR penney stores OR penney, j.c. etc.). Continue reading

Refereed? I Thought You Said Peer-Reviewed – Finding Scholarly Articles

MGMT 100 is a course that all Wharton undergraduates have to take, usually during their freshman year. One of the components of the class is finding a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal article. For those of you currently in MGMT 100 or just looking to search the business literature for articles, we’ve recreated the steps for finding scholarly articles.

When you are looking for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles, a good place to start is in Business Source Complete. This is a key resource for scholarly business information, such as Academy of Management Review, Journal of Finance, and Journal of Organizational Behavior. The database also includes business weeklies and trade journals.  Let’s say you were looking for articles on character strengths. You could start with a search for:

(character or personality) AND strength* AND leadership

BSC Search

Search for your terms keeping the drop-down menu in the default setting. The default setting searches within the article’s bibliographic information (e.g. title, abstract, subject headings, etc). Use the asterisk, which is a truncation symbol, to search variations on a term. In this case, a search for strength* will find strength, strengths, strengthening, etc.

When you are viewing the search results, it’s a good idea to sort by Relevance. Sorting by Relevance will put articles at the top which have the search terms appearing most frequently. To view only peer-reviewed articles, select the Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals option from the left-hand menu under the heading “Refine your results”. Note that this filter is not 100% accurate, you will need to verify that the journal is Peer-Reviewed using Ulrich’s.

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Let’s take a look at a record: Continue reading

Increase Your Market Share IQ

The cartoon character Dogbert gives this advice to the Boss:

“It’s easy to create a strategy – Write down everything you do preceded by the phrase Increase our Market Share by.

Creating strategy a la Dogbert is easy. Finding market share data can be tough.

Market share is the percentage of a market, usually defined in units or in revenue, accounted for by a company, a brand, a product, a commodity, or an institution.  The market can be defined geographically, as broadly as the entire world or as narrowly as a zip code. Market share figures are usually calculated for the year, but some industries require more frequent updates. For example, the publication MusicWeek gives weekly market shares by corporate group for artists’ singles and albums. In addition, we may want historical time series or a projection of market share data. The number of potential requests for specific combinations of products, companies, geography and time is almost endless.

Here are some sources for market share data.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s industry surveys module is a good source for market share data for more than one hundred industry groups. The screen below shows market share data for North American Passenger Airlines. Use the command BI <GO> to access Bloomberg Industries. Select an industry and then click on “Market Share” from the left-hand menu. Bloomberg is available at the Lippincott Library and Huntsman Hall.

Note that passenger airlines have their own unique market share metric “Revenue Passenger Kilometers”

bloomberg bi north american market share

Market Share Reporter Continue reading

Puttin’ on the Ritz – Sources for Data on Wealth

In the U.S. there is an increasing concentration of assets in the hands of the wealthy. This trend has given rise to phrases such as the “1%” and the “99%”.  Here are some data sources to help us answer such questions as “Who are the richest people?”, “How many of them are there?”, “How rich are they?”, and “How do they spend their money?”

Richest Lists

Forbes has a number of “richest people” lists in its magazine including Forbes World’s Billionaires and Forbes 400 The Richest People in America. In addition to names, photos, and net worth, the lists have information on residence, age, and source of income.  Using Forbes’ data, Wikipedia has compiled a convenient list of the Top 10 Richest People in the world by year from 2000 on.

Rich Demographics

Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management’s 2012 World Wealth Report is a freely available annual survey of “High Net Worth Individuals” (HNWI) from 70 countries. HNWI are defined as those with financial assets, excluding residence, of more than 1 million US dollars. Capgemini also discusses “Ultra HNWIs” individuals with financial assets of more than 30 million dollars. The report includes statistics on type of financial assets and a ranking of high wealth individuals by geographic area and country. Continue reading

How Much for that Tummy Tuck? Information on the U.S. Plastic/Cosmetic Surgery Industry

In the U.S., strictly speaking “Plastic Surgery” is surgery performed by Board Certified Plastic Surgeons. Other surgery designed to enhance appearance, for example, a dermatologist removing a facial mole, is described as “Cosmetic Surgery”.

A definition of the industry is provided by IBIS World Industry Reports.

The Industry provides medical techniques to enhance physical appearance for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes ” (IBIS Plastic Surgeons , October 2011).

Two specialty physician professional associations for plastic surgeons that collect data will be helpful in analyzing the industry:

1. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons  – The largest plastic surgery specialty organization. See their procedural statistics page. The Organization reports  performing 13.8 million surgical procedures in 2011.

2. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery members are American Board of Plastic Surgery certified physicians. Their Statistics page, provides data on procedure

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