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An Early Spring Fever Could Cure a Frosty World Economy

There's something about spring to a Chicago native that's totally revitalizing. And it's just what the world economy needs right now, no matter what your geographic position is on the globe. Even though it's only February (traditionally a particularly nasty weather month here in Chicago), our January was uncommonly moderate. So Spring Fever is already in the air. Catch it. It looks like a cure to a frosty world economy.

The news regarding the collapse of Enron Corp. and the alleged involvement of public auditors Arthur Andersen was shocking and, to some, unbelievably devastating. The debacle has raised more than a suspicious eyebrow from an increasingly uncertain public as it witnesses the machinations of corporate America. In truth, this episode has all the makings of a made-for-TV drama that hearkens me back to the days of the television series “Dallas.

With the added trauma of the K-Mart bankruptcy declaration and Motorola's plans to reduce its labor force drastically (again), we are all ready to escape from the tidal wave of bad news.

We need some hopeful signs that our economies are on the mend. To that end, we have some tidings that are helping us look ahead with the promise of better days to come soon.

First in line is the news the euro is off and running, having become legal currency in 12 European Union nations on January 1st. Now we must become familiar with the new look of the currency so it's not mistaken for euro-style Monopoly money from the popular board game! (Apparently this really happened at a bar in southern France.)

And, one by one, industry associations are distributing press releases that report encouraging news of more stable times to come in the markets they serve. Be sure to visit for expanded details on the news we've summarized on p. 14 in “Converter Clips” and another article on the outlook for aluminum foil packaging on p. 44. While household/institutional foil and semi-rigid packaging in the US are projected to grow 0.9% and 1.5% respectively through 2005, flexible packaging containing foil will increase 2.6% annually during the same period, according to a study by Omega Research Assoc.

In a nutshell, most other markets will experience modest growth. Flexography, says the Flexographic Technical Assn. (FTA), will outpace the performance of the Gross National Product, coming in between 4% and 5%, compared to slightly less than the 2% improvement expected in the GNP.

The nonwovens industry, according to a Freedonia report, expects the demand for nonwoven roll goods in the US will increase 4.5%/yr to $4.6 billion in 2005. If you're already involved or are toying with entrance into this market, you might want to make a mental note to yourself that PFFC will cover this segment of the converting industry coming this August.

As for the tissue paper market, Jaakko Poyry Consulting estimates the global value of this business at US $30 billion with demand reaching 3.2%/yr growth to 2010.

And PFFC has its own happy announcement to make: Timothy J. Walker has joined our contributing editor ranks alongside our regular columnists Richard Podhajny, Sheila Millar, Dave Bentley Jr., and Stan Sacharow. Tim's new column is titled “Web Lines” and will address, like his retired predecessor Bill Hawkins, web handling processes. With a B.S. in mechanical engineering and M.S. in management of technology, Tim specializes in web handling education, process development, and production problem solving. We offer him our warmest welcome!

For more information on the converting industry beyond this issue's contents, visit We offer content there you cannot find in the print issue, and it is updated weekly. Once there, be sure to e-mail your feedback to me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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