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Principles of the Master Cyclist

Despite studies indicating the contrary, many academics and practitioners assert that the business cycle can’t be predicted and therefore can’t be managed. However, managers who draw upon forecasting models, closely follow leading economic indicators and manage their business cycle proactively are likely to emerge from tough economic times intact, says the author.

To this end, the “master cyclist” project has evaluated companies’ market literacy, forecasting capabilities and use of macroeconomic strategy. From the evaluation, it developed a set of managerial principles, defining how a market-literate management team would approach short-run functional decisions regarding inventory, production, marketing and pricing as well as more strategic choices regarding capital expansion, acquisitions and divestitures. According to the author, explicitly cycle-savvy companies like Johnson & ; Johnson, Southwest Airlines, DuPont and Duke Power weathered rough economic times well, while companies like Cisco Systems, which rejected the use of macroeconomic forecasting, was caught during the recent recession with crippling levels of product and supply-chain inventories.

It follows then, according to the author, that strategic, tactical and functional decisions are better informed by intelligent speculations about the business cycle. As economic-forecasting indicators and techniques continue to improve, so should our understanding of both the business cycle and the principles associated with effectively managing it.

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