Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How the Positive News on our Economy Today Affects the Licensing Industry

Today, via the major news reporting agencies, it was reported by The Commerce Department that durable goods orders rose 3.4 percent to $165.6 billion in February, the biggest gain since December 2007. As you probably know, in economics, a durable good is one which does not quickly wear out, or more specifically, one that yields services or utility over time rather than being completely used up when used once (such as food). I proffer that this screams licensing. If you think about the types of products that are manufactured using licensed properties (art, characters, trademarks, brands, etc), it becomes apparent that the vast majority are, by definition, durable goods. Products such as home d├ęcor, textiles, housewares, wall art, paper products and more are all durable goods. If the orders for these products are truly on the rise, as indicated by the February increase, then I would say this is a very good sign for the licensing industry.

Interestingly, the same report also provided that inventories of manufactured durable goods fell for a second consecutive month in February, easing 0.9 percent to $336.8 billion, after dropping 1.1 percent in January. This means to me that manufacturers will need to restock these lower inventories in order to meet the increased demand, as identified above. Or it means that demand has increased faster than manufacturers anticipated and they have to ramp up in order to keep up with demand. Thus, now is the perfect time to be submitting your newest and greatest designs to as many design departments as possible because, presumably, manufacturers will be in full product development mode now.

Moreover, another benchmark, new home sales, also rose for the month and, as the collapse of the United States housing market was considered a primary trigger for the current economic slump, stability in that market is seen as a key ingredient for the economy's recovery. This suggests that if the overall economy is slowly on the rise (or at least decreasing slower) individual areas of growth will be fueled and rise independently. Soon everyone will begin to exhibit positive attitudes and start spending some of that hard-earned money, thus further fueling the growth.

Now is the time for everyone to do their part to force this ever-so-slight positive report into the landslide we so desperately need. I like to think of it as a listing ship that is on the verge of toppling over. With this positive data we were just able to push it a little back towards center, but we need many more people on the right side of the ship to make sure it rights itself completely; otherwise it will fall back over to the bad side. In order to get back to perfect balance, we all need to capitalize on the momentum generated so far and add our collective weight to the side of the ship that will prevent it from capsizing. If we can all being to gradually take advantage of the upswing and start spending cash, investing funds, buying real estate, etc., we can positively affect a turnaround of the economy. And to think, it all leads back to licensing … simply.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Excerpt from Lee Iacoca, worth reading and discussing

The following is an excerpt taken from Lee Iacoca's forthcoming book entitled, "Where Have All the Leaders Gone." This is not an endorsement of Lee's book, nor are we explicitly or even implicitly agreeing with his comments. We are posting this in order to start a discussion about a very important topic.

Lee Iacocca Says:

“Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder! We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course.’ Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned, ‘Titanic’. I'll give you a sound bite: ‘Throw all the bums out!’

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving 'pom-poms' instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of the 'America' my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you? I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. The Biggest 'C' is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C's of leadership, with crisis being the first.) Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here’s where we stand. We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the Country. We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.

But when you look around, you've got to ask: 'Where have all the leaders gone?' Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point. Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened. Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when ‘The Big Three' referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it? Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debit, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry. I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?

Had Enough? Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope - I believe in America. In my lifetime, I've had the privilege of living through some of America’s greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises: The 'Great Depression,' ‘World War II,' the 'Korean War,' the 'Kennedy Assassination,' the 'Vietnam War,' the 1970's oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11.

If I’ve learned one thing, it's this: 'You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a “Call to Action" for people who, like me, believe in America’. It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the crap and go to work. Let's tell ‘em all we've had 'enough.'

Make your own contribution by sending this to everyone you know and care about. It's our country, folks, and it's our future. Our future is at stake!!"