This shows that the Dow rose about 69% and the S&P about 55% over the earlier period.
Here’s the later chart:
This shows the Dow up about 124% and the S&P 122%. Impressive, and if you subscribe to the notion that corporate C-suite “animal spirits” motivate M&A, strong hiring, and the expansion of everything from geographic footprints to product/service lines to R&D capability, then you have to consider this a Force 5 or 6 wind at your backs (using the Beaufort Scale).
Unemployment is another one of those top three or top five economic indicators of health, so here we have it. Our first period:
Spiking up in honor of the dot-com recession and staying above 5.5% for another three years or so. Quite decent by postwar standards.
But the second period of our choice? Unemployment rates don’t drop this long or this far without very strong economic demand.
Two final data series.
First, industrial production since it’s viewed, still, as the hardest core component of the economy. It also tends to support high-value jobs and to have a “multiplier effect” outside the pure manufacturing industry that’s greater than that for a similar X% of GDP generated by, say, restaurants and hotels.
Our first period:
Net growth from 87 on the index scale to 102. A respectable decade.
And our second period:
Coincidentally, from pretty much the same starting point, 87 (at the trough) to 108: Stronger still than the comparable period.
Finally, a data series that should be near and dear to the hearts of anyone in a global or cross-border law firm: US exports of financial services. (Who knew Fred would have such a data series? But ask and ye may find.)
From about $1.4-billion in 1998 to four times that, $5.2-billion in late 2007.
From $5.3-billion at the outset of the period to $9.1-billion at the end; less than a doubling, but consider the sheer magnitude of the data series throughout the period. It was never lower than in our prior period, and growing at healthy double-digit rates most years. That should be enough to push along cross-border BigLaw work, no?
I’ll close our deep dive into data her by noting something you have not seen: Consumer price inflation (CPI). That’s because it essentially didn’t matter over the past 20 years. It was solidly under control so not a “player” in national income statistics. How CPI figures into GDP and the other series you’ve just walked through with me is, as I see it, more as a building block (or crumbling foundation) underlying consumer and business confidence than as an indicator of economic activity in its own right.
Seguing back to Law Land, here’s that gripping chart I promised you out of ALM Intelligence showing the performance percentage change in revenue of each of the AmLaw 50 firms (anonymized–ha ha!) over the past 20 years: Blue/gray boxes are positive numbers, white is 0, and pink are negative.