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Thoughts for a New Year
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Welcome to 2012.

In past years, as the New Year began, I’ve sometimes offered an educated guess on how the economy might fare and factors that might affect the forest products industry. Most years optimism edges out utter doom and gloom, even now.

At this moment, we can identify events that will influence business and economies through the year, but to what extent is unknown. In the United States, campaigning is well under way for elections to be held in the fall. Some improvement in employment seems to be occurring. And near my neighborhood, some new homes are even being built. Elsewhere, much is in flux. 

Even the best analysis of historical data, current trends, and available data will be more or less affected by personal bias and missing or inaccurate information. The conditions on which we base our assumptions change, and unforeseen factors further skew the forecast as each week passes.

Thinking back on some of my own New Year forecasts, some held up well, others ended up a ways off the mark by year’s end. As a planning tool, forecasts can be useful in anticipating likely business scenarios, but they need to be revised as actual situations change.

So, for 2012, I remain cautiously optimistic that business and the economy will improve, but also see the potential many, many challenges this year and beyond.


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