Harry S. Dent Jr. forecast the '90s boom when others were crying doom. Now the Miami Beach, Florida, economist says we're entering another, even bigger boom, which will be followed by a bust rivaling the Great Depression. Once again, Dent, who makes his case in The Next Great Bubble Boom: How to Profit From the Greatest Boom in History: 2005-2009 (Free Press, $26), opposes the consensus view, which foresees a more challenging economic environment.
Dent discounts worries about interest rates, oil prices and terrorism to focus on demographic trends and technology cycles. In the last half of this decade, he notes, the baby boom generation will reach its peak spending years. Simultaneously, technologies including broadband wireless will reach 90 percent penetration. This combination, in his view, will drive the Dow Jones industrial average to 35,000 and create rich business opportunities.
Dent has missed before--notably, he expected a far more modest downturn from 2000 to 2002 than what occurred. But no matter--"Even if we're only half right and the next boom is somewhat subdued because of terrorism or oil prices, it would mean a pretty darn healthy economy," he argues.
Entrepreneurs should focus on producing high-quality, customized goods and invest in technology to permit higher productivity in a tighter labor market, Dent says. Most important, entrepreneurs should prepare to sell their businesses or hook up with bigger partners before the boom ends in 2010. Says Dent, "You have five years to make a difference and then get paid for it."