Reading the tea leaves-correlation between employment growth and IT capital spending

As you know, I like to stay abreast of the economy and IT spending, searching for leading indicators of how the markets and my companies may perform in the future. It is clear that given the current market, people are quite excited about the prospects of IT spending growth in 2004. Given that backdrop, I found an interesting graph in this weeks Goldman Sachs Software Scoop report

it_spending.jpg

showing the linkage between employment growth and IT capital spending. According to Goldman, this graph shows "companies are likely to view tech capital spending the same way they do employment–add when you are confident of the sustainability of the recovery and only when you have to." As you can see, there is pretty close correlation between the two sets of data. What it tells me is to keep a close eye on employment data and potentially use that as another leading indicator for IT capital spending. When companies are feeling good about themselves and the economy, they spend more. It will be interesting to see how this graph looks in the future as more companies look to outsource non-core capabilities and continue to cut costs and improve earnings. For example, will capital IT spending begin to spike above employment growth in the next 5 years and by how much?

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