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  • Writer's pictureTim Mahedy

The Next Ten Economic Outlook: Where the Economy is Going and How You Can Stay Ahead

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

The world is headed for a challenging decade, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t thrive.

A person on a bicycle looking at a large mountain, preparing to ride up.

THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK - A BUMPY RIDE

  • Stability will remain elusive. The next ten years are likely to be defined by structural shortages of both key goods and labor, complicated by extended bouts of economic, political, and geopolitical uncertainty. Economic volatility will necessitate responses by policy makers that are likely to come with side effects. Whole sectors – like commercial real estate – will go through painful transitions. And the war for talent will persist. These factors will make business investment harder and periodically spook consumers. The bottom line: our economic outlook is for continued uncertainty and economic gyrations.


  • On inflation, supply factors will eclipse demand forces. Even as prices decline from last year’s peaks, the same issues driving economic and political uncertainty will lead to variable inflationary pressures over the long-term. Labor shortages are baked-in, and demographics are against us, and supply chains will be challenged to build enough resiliency to overcome continued disruptions from geopolitical events and climate change. The tenacity of supply-driven inflationary pressures will create headaches for businesses and monetary policymakers alike.


  • The era of consistently low interest rates is over. Federal Reserve officials – as well as other central bankers – are going to be faced with a tough choice: more variability in interest rates to address volatile inflationary pressures, or move the goal posts through broader policy changes, like redefining their inflation target. Since significant policy changes could risk destabilizing inflation expectations, the more likely path is to use tried and tested methods to address new problems. However, while the game plan may look the same, the adjustments are likely to be more frequent. That means more variability in interest rates forcing businesses to contend with shorter expansions and potentially more sluggish recoveries.


  • Prepare for more regulation no matter who’s in office. Individually, these issues would be tough to tackle. Taken together, they have the potential to be extremely disruptive in the U.S. and abroad. Governments will fall back on crisis playbooks drawn up during the pandemic to step in early and with force. Expect monetary policymakers to continue bailing out banks and opening lending facilities to meet new crises, while fiscal policymakers will be forced to address the impacts of climate change and regulate new technology like AI. As policy changes play out across the global stage, the risk is high for conflicting regulatory standards to develop. This will add to what will already be a costly regulatory burden for business.


THREE ACTIONS TO TAKE SO YOUR BUSINESS CAN THRIVE IN THE NEXT TEN

  • Look out, not down. Today’s world is unkind to the long view. Investors, clients, and customers expect immediate returns. But to maximize growth opportunities in a period of volatility, look out at the horizon – not down at your feet. What does this look like? Clarify and codify strategy, so your team is rowing in the same direction even when the water gets rough. Resist quick fixes that don’t advance long-term goals. Don’t just focus on forecasting the downside or running through worst case scenarios—game out the opportunities so your business is the first to spot them and capitalize.


  • Don’t drown in data and complexity. We’ve gone overboard with “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Too often we overanalyze data and overcomplicate models, assuming that more complexity means better answers. Instead, it often means less understanding. Start from a place of humility – data is always incomplete, and models are usually wrong. Changing your mindset is foundational to building a culture of understanding, where modeling and analysis are tools to improve critical thinking, not crutches to lean on for security. Challenge assumptions and know limitations. Don’t build a fancy boat with lots of knobs and levers that aren’t fully understood and drown in it. Build something transparent so when the seas get choppy, you’ll know where you need more duct tape.


  • Tech is a tool, not a substitute. Labor shortages are going to be a theme this decade, which may leave some companies looking for ways to reduce their headcount. New technologies are a tempting solution—but they’re not ready for prime time just yet. Even if they arrive, be very thoughtful about deployment. Adopting a strategy focused on enhancing employee productivity, freeing up talent to focus on higher value work, will likely yield greater returns than using tech to marginally improve the bottom line. Focus on labor-enhancing, not labor-substituting solutions.


The world is entering a period of prolonged uncertainty with a series of daunting challenges ahead. You can’t stop the volatility, but you can build a business that thrives in the next ten. Access/Macro is committed to helping your company achieve its full potential by helping you find strategic solutions to the next decade’s most pressing economic challenges.



 

Tim Mahedy is the Founder and Chief Economist of Access/Macro – a consultancy focused on uncomplicating the economy so that your business can make better decisions.


Disclaimer: The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation. Access/Macro does not provide legal advice.



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