Nov. 1, 2022 | Podcast

Episode 4: The digital economy—outlook for 2023

Rob Wescott, economist and former White House advisor

About the episode

What does the economy have to do with digital? Everything. We talk with renowned economist Rob Wescott about his predictions on the future of globalization, the winners and losers with decisions around climate change, and the labor markets in 2023.


Rob Wescott

Dr. Wescott has more than 30 years of professional experience working on macroeconomic, financial, and public policy issues. He served for four years as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council at the White House and as Chief Economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.


A question we like to ask our guests, Rob, is what does digital mean to you?

To me, it means efficiency. It means using and easily sharing information. It means opening doors and increasing living standards. It should mean increased opportunities for research and development. It should create new ways of reducing business costs. I think it should provide better ways of delivering credit to businesses that deserve it and helping to make credit systems work better. 
I know many people think about digital and they think about the consumer. They think about using it for entertainment or identifying which groups you want to target for, say, advertising. And that's all fine to me, but I really think about it mainly on the production side–what does it mean for science and technology to improve financial and economic productivity? That's what I think of.

What role would you say that the government should be playing as it relates to digital?

If a bunch of people lose their life savings because they invested in cryptocurrency, that's not going to be a good thing because technology is going to undermine confidence. If there are 10,000 data series, as is said, available on each person, some people will say, “Oh, I live a clean life, I have no secrets. It's no problem.” 
But there are a lot of issues. One could just be there's some incorrect data out there and how do you correct it? So, I think we do need government. We need regulators to make sure that the technology is useful and to prevent abuses, making sure it helps to serve people.

We recently published a piece talking about using essentialism to define your priorities in a downturn. How do you create greater focus during a downturn and focus on what really matters most for the business?

You get back to your core business, “what is it we do for a living? What is our reputation? What is it that we deliver to our clients that our clients absolutely need?” And you deliver that. 


And then put yourself in your client's shoes. What are they going to need to succeed in a more stressful financial and business environment? And rather than trying to roll out 10 new products, you're going to pick the two or three that pass the highest hurdle rate, and you're going to put your effort into those. And, probably, you're going to have some ideas that make you say, “that's still a pretty good idea, but we might do that in 2024.”

Are there any bright spots that you’re seeing or anything you’re excited about in 2023?

Oh, I'm an optimist on the US economy, productivity, and future growth. So even if we have a recession, to me that sows the seeds of entrepreneurs picking up the pieces and investing. If, say, the first half of 2023 isn't great, I think the economy gets back on its feet in 2024 and we're inventing new things. And I think digital technology is going to play a key role. 

Think about health and medicine, first of all. COVID-19 was devastating, but it also opened eyes to new technology like mRNA technology and new vaccine development techniques. I think we're going to be seeing technology unlocking all kinds of new vaccination capabilities that can improve health.

Show Notes
What does the economy have to do with digital? Everything. We talk with renowned economist Rob Wescott about his predictions on the future of globalization, the winners and losers with decisions around climate change, and the labor markets in 2023.

Jump ahead to these highlights:

2:10 - About Rob Wescott
4:12 - What digital means to Rob
5:06 - The unique challenges that digital presents
6:09 - How do we manage implications of new technologies
7:16 - Digital evolution of healthcare and retail industries
9:56 - Digital evolution of professional services
11:00 - What should be top of mind for business leaders in 2023
12:16 - Rob’s prediction for the labor market in 2023
16:30 - How can companies insulate themselves from economic volatility next year
18:02 - How companies can implement essentialism during a downturn
18:54 - Rob’s perspective on global economy and impact on U.S. companies
22:37 - Supply chain management trends
24:28 - Bright spots in 2023 economy
26:00 - Energy industry insights
29:47 – Economic modeling 
31:30 - Why 2023 could be stressful for companies

Find Rob Westcott at

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This is Digital

West Monroe's team of experts and guests pull back the curtain on how to build digital throughout an organization. Through real-world examples, you will learn how to spot digital transformation in real life, and how to make small decisions every day that make a big impact on growth.

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