In his new book The Next Boom, Jack Plunkett, CEO & Publisher of Alacra Partner, Plunkett Research and a widely followed analyst of global trends, persuasively demonstrates that we are on the verge of a period of major economic growth.
Jack took a few moments to tell us about "The Next Boom" and what we "absolutely positively have to know about the world between now and 2025."
With all the doom and gloom surrounding the world’s economy, what makes you so optimistic?
Not everyone is aware of it, but the recession is officially over, and the next boom is already rolling down the tracks in much of the world, as I’ve seen for myself in recent trips to Brazil, China and other emerging markets. America and Europe will eventually get onboard this boom. To a large extent, people have been so busy licking their wounds from the Great Recession of 2008-2009 that they aren’t seeing the amazingly positive trends that will lead to future growth, both in the U.S. and around the world.
I’m not belittling the myriad challenges that remain, particularly in America and much of Europe—the housing inventory crisis, financial restructuring, unemployment that will remain too high for too long, along with extremely high levels of government obligations and entitlements. Nonetheless, rapidly growing business and consumer markets around the globe, soaring global trade and key technologies that are about to ramp up to a new level are going to lift us into a very powerful new boom. I’m not forecasting the exact timing, strength or duration. I’m not offering a crystal ball. Instead, in The Next Boom, I’m providing vital insights into the positive trends that will move us ahead—a much needed and timely contrast to the pervasive pessimism that I think many of us are tired of.
In The Next Boom, you argue that we are on the verge of a major economic expansion. What are some of the key signals supporting your theory?
The core focus of this book is that three powerful platforms have tremendous synergy that will boost the world of business while bringing stunning global changes during the 2011-2025 period. These vital building blocks include:
1) A soaring global population and a doubling of global trade.
2) Sweeping changes in consumers, demographics and education.
3) Emerging technologies, centered on health care, wireless communications, biotechnology, nanotechnology and energy.
Who should be reading this book?
Virtually everyone. The Next Boom is designed to be an easy-to-understand and easy-to-use detailing of trends that will lead to the most important changes sweeping through the worlds of business, energy, education, health care, marketing and technology over the next 15 years. I wrote it in lay terms that will not require any particular expertise or background on the part of the reader. I am assuming that the reader has a reasonable interest in societal changes, technological developments and the forces that are shaping the world around you, not necessarily that he or she has an extensive background in business, finance or economics. However, people who must make product, marketing, strategy and investment decisions as part of their day-to-day lives are likely to benefit most, whether they live in North America or elsewhere in the world.
Is there one piece of advice you’d give to business leaders about how best to leverage the Boom?
Yes, don’t make the common mistake of thinking about the future in a linear manner. That is, extrapolating from events that happened in the recent past, and then assuming those events will continue at the same pace in the near future, is a good way to get blindsided. Expect change to be not only constant, but dramatic. In fact, Chapter 9 in The Next Boom is largely about change. Part of that chapter is focused on changes that will be brought about by an evolution in generations—something that business people don’t typically don’t think about enough. Generation Y, young people born from roughly 1982 to 2002, is about to come of age, dramatically changing the consumer landscape, and fortunately providing a vital young workforce. At 91 million, this is the largest generation in American history—larger by far than the Baby Boomers. Chapter 6, “Always On, Always With You and Always Getting Smaller,” explains why we tend to underestimate the effect of coming changes in technology, and shows how the continuing trend of miniaturization will make economic growth soar while creating business efficiencies and enabling pervasive computing.
So what does the world look like in 2026?
Great question. The answer is: 1) A vastly larger consumer base. America’s population will grow to 350 million by then (from today’s 310 million), and the global population will hit 8 billion (from today’s 6.8 billion). American consumers will maintain relatively high personal savings rates and much lower levels of debt than they had during the last boom. Americans fueled much of the last boom—the next one will be fueled to a large extent by consumers and business needs in emerging nations. The number of people living in poverty worldwide will drop, while the global middle class will soar. This means immense new markets for consumer goods, business equipment and services. The challenge for America and other economically mature nations is to focus on research, development and innovation to an extent that they continue to offer goods and services that will be in high demand in emerging nations. As detailed in the book, I’ve recently seen a broad array of American brand goods in the shopping malls and offices of Beijing and Shanghai, along with brands from Japan and Europe. China will offer an immense marketing opportunity, as will Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Malaysia and India.
If government and business leaders manage well, America will remain the world’s most important economy and a font of vital innovation and research. Likewise, governments will likely be more transparent and efficient, and education will be more efficient and effective—partly through enhanced technologies. Meanwhile, how will the world manage to provide enough food, water, health care and energy for this booming population? Read The Next Boom—it will make you feel a lot better.
See the Content Provider Interview with Jack Plunkett here.
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