In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.
– Rudi Dornbusch (1942-2002)
We spent the last week in Chicago attending William Blair’s 42nd Annual Growth Stock Conference, where over four days we hosted the (primarily C-suite) management teams of nearly 320 growth-oriented companies, taken from across a very broad group of economic sectors. At the event, there were as many as 14 tracks of presentations, breakouts, and 1-on-1s all taking place simultaneously—an impressive logistical feat—giving clients plenty of opportunity for access to these companies. Furthermore, after the last two years of the conference taking place virtually, the sentiment was overwhelmingly that it was a huge relief to be back in person, and attendance reflected this, with an increase of 9% from 2019. While getting to hear companies present and read their body language is one key benefit of the in-person conference, just as important are the discussions on the event with clients and colleagues. This included very open discourses between meetings, and over dinners and drinks, about the companies we have seen, the trends we have or have not seen, and the conclusions we have drawn.
In this Economics Weekly, as we have done in the past, we present some of our own macro highlights we have drawn from the event, including commentary from the companies themselves, which in the current environment largely centered on three major themes: the health of the consumer and the labor market; the future of work, inflation, and supply chains; and evidence of reshoring.
Given the substantial number of companies presenting, we have unfortunately only been able to scratch the surface in terms of the themes being presented; however, we hope to be able to give a flavor of the mood and sentiment around these key issues.
For a copy of this report or to subscribe to the Economics Weekly or Economic Indicators reports, please contact your William Blair representative.
Richard de Chazal, CFA, is a London-based macroeconomist covering the U.S. economy and financial markets.