The Big Picture
By Maryann Thompson

(Business 2.0) – ECONOMY Was That a Whiff of Inflation? Deflation, the bogeyman of 2003, is finally fading from economists' nightmares. It may soon be replaced by the more familiar specter of inflation. The Reuters-Commodity Research Bureau Futures Index (which measures 17 key markets) recently hit a six-year high, driven in part by higher cotton and gold prices. So far, the rising cost of raw materials hasn't shown up in consumer prices. But as the economy rebounds, upward pressure may develop.

MARKETING Words Beat Pictures Increasingly, online advertisers are paying for performance--and analysts believe keyword-based advertising generates superior click-through results. Keywords accounted for 31 percent of the $1.7 billion in Internet advertising revenue generated during last year's second quarter, up from 9 percent during the same period the year before.

TECHNOLOGY Consumers Prop Up Computers Even as the value of PC shipments has fallen in the United States, consumers' share of sales has risen from 29 percent in 1996 to about 37 percent today. One reason: The average unit price of a home computer is a third higher than that of a PC purchased for commercial use.

ZEITGEIST Still Getting Started Fifteen percent of working Americans in 2002 had founded a business within the preceding 42 months. The share of the workforce classified as startup entrepreneurs peaked at 19 percent in 2000, but in 2002 remained 87 percent higher than in 1998. Many of the young businesses they founded are tiny sole proprietorships, of course. Still, the figures are a sign that a culture of entrepreneurship is taking root.

Portion of Workforce made Up of New Entrepreneurs*

'98 8% '99 16% '00 19% '01 18% '02 15%

*Defined as founders of businesses less than 42 months old. Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor