The Economy

A Fright in August

CFOs continue to adapt to interesting times.
Scott LeibsSeptember 1, 2011

“May you live in interesting times” never struck me as all that dire a curse, until last month. Even as we thought we had come to accept continuous volatility as a hallmark of the new normal, last month’s Wall Street whipsawing reminded us that things can always get…more interesting.

I won’t bother mentioning where the Dow stands as I write this, because by the time this issue makes it into your hands it’s entirely possible that several huge swings will have transported the closing-bell average to who-knows-where. The big question, of course, is whether all this tumult heralds the double dip that many economists have been predicting since 2008. When we polled CFOs in mid-August, just after the Dow’s three-day, 1,000-point drop, almost half said that we are either in another recession now or are about to enter one. Only 11% said they do not believe a double-dip recession looms.

It may seem odd, then, to offer you a cover story on growth, but what better way to respond to recent events than to soldier on, albeit as prudently as possible? In that spirit, we have framed this story not as a “how-to” but as a “how-not-to.” What can you afford to ignore in order to focus on what will work best? It’s a critical part of any growth strategy, but one that often goes missing as companies frantically brainstorm or simply green-light the ideas that garner the most vocal support. The good news for CFOs is that in helping to steer their companies away from less-fruitful options, they can leverage their analytic strengths, and demonstrate why saying no is a critical part of getting to yes. See “How Not to Grow.”

If we are heading into more-interesting times, I’m happy to say that we now offer you a vastly expanded and even more interesting (in the best possible sense) Website. We’ve completely redesigned, segmenting our coverage into seven distinct and easy-to-navigate topic areas that can be seen at the top of every page. We now offer more news and analysis of more subjects, updated more frequently, than ever before. And no need to worry about information overload, because you’ll be able to find exactly what you need when you need it. Our new site also offers a digital edition of CFO magazine, for those who want the best of both worlds. Please let us know how you like the improvements.