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Fed, SIUE Economists Say Leading Indicators Point to a Slower Economy by 2020

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Although the current U.S. forecast is beginning to show leading indicators of a slowing economy, this year’s economic forecast of positive Real GDP and employment growth “still has legs.”

This message came from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Timothy Sullivan, Ph.D., instructor in the Department of Economics and Finance. As one of two economists who addressed the large audience at the City of Edwardsville’s 2019 Business Forecast Breakfast on Feb. 5, Sullivan said U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product has grown for 18 consecutive quarters and that there’s no immediate indication that this momentum will wane.

“This is a legit expansion,” he said. “One hundred consecutive months of U.S. employment growth represents more than double the second-best record of a data set dating back to the 1930s.”

U.S. Real GDP growth will likely increase at a rate of 2.9 percent in 2019 overall, Sullivan added, lower than in 2018 but not an indicator that the country is poised for recession just yet. “I would say we’re looking at about a 15 percent probability of recession in 2019,” he said. “There are some leading indicators of a slowing economy, even though this economy has another year of legs.”

In contrast to the national Real GDP growth outlook, Illinois’ Real GDP is projected to grow at a rate of 1.8 percent throughout 2019. “Unlike a year ago when the economic dashboard was green, there are now some mixed signals,” Sullivan said. “The two things we can watch and track are consumer sentiment and interest rate spreads (between long-term and short-term interest rates on U.S. Treasuries).”

Charles Gascon, a regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, also spoke to the Edwardsville business audience on Tuesday. Gascon said that while 2018 represented a stronger economy than experts predicted, much of that had been driven by additional government spending. “My forecast is for Real GDP growth to be closer to 2 percent in 2019, but this will definitely slow over the next couple of years,” said Gascon. “Factors contributing to that slowdown will include the aging workforce, slowing productivity, faster wage growth, tighter labor markets and inflationary pressures like steel tariffs and energy price increases.”

By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Although the current U.S. forecast is beginning to show leading indicators of a slowing economy, this year’s economic forecast of positive Real GDP and employment growth “still has legs.”

This message came from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Timothy Sullivan, Ph.D., instructor in the Department of Economics and Finance. As one of two economists who addressed the large audience at the City of Edwardsville’s 2019 Business Forecast Breakfast on Feb. 5, Sullivan said U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product has grown for 18 consecutive quarters and that there’s no immediate indication that this momentum will wane.

“This is a legit expansion,” he said. “One hundred consecutive months of U.S. employment growth represents more than double the second-best record of a data set dating back to the 1930s.”

U.S. Real GDP growth will likely increase at a rate of 2.9 percent in 2019 overall, Sullivan added, lower than in 2018 but not an indicator that the country is poised for recession just yet. “I would say we’re looking at about a 15 percent probability of recession in 2019,” he said. “There are some leading indicators of a slowing economy, even though this economy has another year of legs.”

In contrast to the national Real GDP growth outlook, Illinois’ Real GDP is projected to grow at a rate of 1.8 percent throughout 2019. “Unlike a year ago when the economic dashboard was green, there are now some mixed signals,” Sullivan said. “The two things we can watch and track are consumer sentiment and interest rate spreads (between long-term and short-term interest rates on U.S. Treasuries).”

Charles Gascon, a regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, also spoke to the Edwardsville business audience on Tuesday. Gascon said that while 2018 represented a stronger economy than experts predicted, much of that had been driven by additional government spending. “My forecast is for Real GDP growth to be closer to 2 percent in 2019, but this will definitely slow over the next couple of years,” said Gascon. “Factors contributing to that slowdown will include the aging workforce, slowing productivity, faster wage growth, tighter labor markets and inflationary pressures like steel tariffs and energy price increases.”

Photo Above: Charles Gascon

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