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My job and the job of my company is to provide strategic consulting and advice to our clients Eighty percent of our clients are in the steel sectors and therefore we are continuously involved in struggling with the issues of long-term development in technology costs markets product specifications and industry structure We operate world-wide and so we are continuously confronted with the need to think about global developments in the metals sectors One of our key tasks is to provide understanding and forecasts around which to build long-term competitive strategy The problem with giving forecasts is that you can only ever be wrong This breeds a certain humility and before venturing into the future it is worthwhile to glance back at some of the foolish forecasts of the past Twenty years ago in the seventies I lived in the United States Following the first oil shock in the early seventies there was an organisation formed called the Club of Rome which forecasted doom and gloom for economic development based upon a world-wide shortage of resources It was pointed out that there was only thirty years supply of oil left in known reserves in the mid 1970s The surprising thing is that today we still have over thirty years known reserves of oil The Club of Rome had forgotten the impact of the price mechanism that when the price of oil goes up exploration increases and new reserves are foundOf course in some simplistic sense this can not go on forever there is an inevitable logic in the statement that there is a finite reserve of oil the problem is that nobody knows how I also remember in the 1970s that it was commonly felt amongst economic forecasters and thinkers that Japan which was then growing at 7 a year in its GDP would continue to do so forever The Japanese had found a new way of organising their industrial system a new way of creating
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