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The performance of the pulp and paper industry, as tracked by the PM40, has been remarkably good for the last few years. The second quarter 2007 earnings reports, just trickling in, indicate that this continued at least through 30 June of this year.

The schools that produce graduates with degrees in pulp and paper science report increased demand for graduates (and the real danger to our industry that the graduates are being swept up by very high starting salaries in the oil industry).

Sector-by-sector, the industry has wrung out obsolete and redundant facilities and finds most performing very well these days with the exception of those related to housing, an economic sector with its own downturn problems.

So why do we still seem to be collectively despondent? I think perhaps it is a generational thing—-we tend to talk most to people around our own age. In my case, being 57 years old, I am often talking to many past mid-career. And our favorite thing to do is talk about the good old days of our early career experiences. We remember how the industry was then, and, psychologists will tell us, tend to remember the good times more so than the bad.

Conclusion: one era is not good or bad as compared to another. They are just different based on conditions at the time. As far as we know, the pulp and paper industry may be on the cusp of its greatest period ever. It would only take two or three breakthrough discoveries to make this so. Let us continue to look hard for those.

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