That Cliff Stuff? Get over it, Says Steve Forbes.

Jan. 2, 2013
In advance of his keynote speech at ProMat 2013, Steve Forbes tells MH&L's readers their employment situation is about to improve.

Happy New Year. If you’re without a job right now, it may turn out to be a very happy new year. When the Labor Dept. releases its employment statistics for December it’s expected they will push the number of new jobs created in 2012 to just over 2 million. That number makes last year the best year of the past six to find a new job. That bodes well for 2013.

It bodes well for employers looking to fill jobs in supply chain management, too. Up to now, business school grads have been scooped up by the financial industry, leaving employers in logistics scrambling to find talent. That’s about to change, according to Steve Forbes.

I had the opportunity to speak with the CEO of Forbes Media and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine recently in advance of his appearance as keynote speaker at ProMat 2013 January 21st in Chicago.  He told me the finance industry is bloated as a balloon when it comes to employing freshly minted business talent, but that balloon is about to burst.

“The finance industry has grown enormously since the 70s,” he said, “and that’s a peculiar thing. The only reason it happened is because of the turmoil and turbulence revolving around the U.S. dollar. The finance industry should be a fraction of the size it is today. When we start to get normalcy again in monetary policy, which is the most boring subject in the world, and that will happen, because this craziness cannot continue, you’ll see labor—people who get six-figure salaries, and not just the blue collar workers—you’ll see a shift in terms of job creation. You’re starting to see it already on Wall Street. Most of the time you hear about layoffs, not big hirings. That means the field of supply chain management will be competitive for talent again.”

The results of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation's most recent Confidence Index tend to back Forbes’ assertion. The equipment finance sector’s confidence last month dipped to 48.5 from the November index of 49.9. This reflects industry participants’ concerns regarding the impact of the much feared “fiscal cliff” on capital expenditures.  Only about a quarter of the executives polled expected to hire more employees over the next four months, down from 33.3% in November.

And about that cliff, Forbes believes the debate among Washington’s lawmakers has been “ridiculous,” and has made the economy worse than it had to be.

“This idea of how much we raise taxes and on whom is preposterous, given the fact that Europe and Japan are in recession and we’re slowing down,” he said. “You don’t bleed a patient who is losing strength. [The fiscal cliff debate] was akin to asking how much poison we should administer to the patient.”

You’ll be able to read my entire interview with Mr. Forbes in MH&L’s January ProMat Preview issue. But suffice it to say for now that Forbes is much more optimistic about the U.S. economy than many other business leaders have been. We may be riding a swinging pendulum, but that’s better than joining Europe in its stagnation, Forbes believes.