Economist: Take Advantage of the Coming Good Years

By Tim Triplett

While it’s true the U.S. economy is slowing, conditions are better than most people think. We can look forward to another few years of prosperity before the next recession hits in 2018-19, predicted Alan Beaulieu, chief economist for ITR Economics, in his remarks at last month’s CBSA annual conference in San Antonio.

Following are a few notable takeaways from Beaulieu’s presentation:

The current rates of growth for U.S. GDP and industrial production are moderating, but that’s no reason for panic. “The U.S. economy is the world’s strongest. We’ve been in a growth mode for a long time. It’s normal for us to slow down.”

Business should accelerate in 2016, and not just in the U.S. There are signs the recovery in the European Union is finally gaining some traction.

Commodity prices should increase in 2016 based on growing demand in the U.S., the EU and China. That includes the price of copper.

Most analysts, including ITR, underestimated the effect of global politics on the price of oil. Certain countries have acted to keep prices low as a way to punish ideological rivals. ITR expects oil to recover to well over $60 a barrel next year “so plan on higher costs associated with higher oil prices.”

The effects of the oil boom on the U.S. economy cannot be overstated, the economist said. Cheap energy will lure companies from all over the globe and give the U.S. economy strength for decades to come. “Oil is hugely powerful for the United States.”

Interest rates will undoubtedly rise, it’s just a question of when. The Fed is keeping a close eye on inflation. It may raise rates as soon as the third quarter, but almost certainly in 2016 and again in 2017. Higher interest rates will eventually have an effect on consumer spending and, ITR predicts, will lead to the next recession.

In the meantime, capitalize on the low rates to borrow as much as you can, he urged his audience. Invest in your business. Acquire the real estate, machinery and talent you need to take full advantage of the demand that’s coming.

There are good days ahead for the U.S. economy. The leading indicators are pointing up. Manufacturing is strong. Employment is rising now that companies have right-sized. Banks are lending. Consumers are spending. Nonresidential construction is improving. And there is little likelihood austerity measures will slow government spending.

In fact, Beaulieu said, for those contemplating retirement, the next few years would be a good time to sell your business. It will fetch a better price while the market is good than it will when that coming recession hits in a few years.
 
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Sunday, May 28, 2017