WSJ's Top Ten Trends

The Wall Street Journal is out with its top ten trends. (You may need to subscribe to WSJonline. I do, so I’m not sure.) According to my favorite daily, here’s what to expect in ten industries:

Fashion: Plain is out; vibrant is in.
Autos: Uncertainty. The SUV craze is waning, but nothing seems to fill the void. In my opinion, hybrids, especially big ones, may become de rigeur.
Publishing: Fewer reads, more material will lead publishers to jump on some craze, like the spiritualism of the 90s or journaling/letters of last year.
Resaurants: Speed of service and increased variety on menus.
Toys: Kids stop playing with toys at younger and younger ages, putting pressure on toy makers. My opinion: parents are to blame by encouraging kids to grow up too fast. My 11-year-old still has fun with the 6-year-old’s toys.
Hollywood: Sequels and remakes. (Nothing new.)
Hotels: Better sleep at a higher price.
Insurance: More products with lifestyle incentives.
Hospitals: Going upscale to attract wealthy patients. (Surprise.)
Beverages: Fewer carbs; more ads.

Nothing exciting made the list (with the possible exception of fashion). American companies seem mired in the bogs of recession thinking, taking few risks, introducing nothing new. Until some bold, innovative, risk takers re-emerge, the jobs numbers will continue to disappoint. This list of trends reminds me eerily of 1993 when Bill Clinton announced that federal deficits were certain for the next 20 years and that GDP growth would never stretch above 3%. Newt Gingrich’s revolution in Congress helped prove Clinton wrong, but the GOP leadership in Washington today seems as risk-averse as corporate leaders.

Will some new technology break this cycle? Let’s hope. The country needs innovation and risk capital badly. Only the bold make money, but there seem to be few bold people around these days.