While 2014 may be winding down, 2015 is just around the corner. I tend to think of this time of year as a time to regroup. Business is slower. It gives me a chance to catch my breath, but also to gear up. January 1, I want to hit the ground running. With that in mind, I try to take advantage of First American Title’s annual economic forecast. This event happened this morning and I thought I share some of what I learned.
The expert who gives this presentation is John Mitchell, Chief Economist for M&H Economic Consultants. He does a great job of taking a dry subject that is filled with numbers and charts, and making it entertaining and engaging. I am going to share with you a few highlights.
For the most part the outlook is good. While economic growth has been slow, it has also been steady. For the past few years there have been fits and starts with the economy. Mr. Mitchell likened it to Bill Murray and Groundhog Day. We’ve seen it before and we will see it again. The economy is chugging along. It’s not explosive, but it is more steady than not.
Some positive news:
Consumers who have delayed major life decisions (getting married, having a child, buying a bigger house) are gaining confidence and starting to make those big moves. This is a stimulus for the housing market.
The US Economy is the envy of the world. Financial and personal security are threatened in many parts of the world (Asia and Europe continue to lag in economic recovery, then there are the world events in Russia and the Middle East). This has countries and individuals looking to put their assets where they feel they will be secure, and that place is the United States. Mr. Mitchell gave credit to this influx of foreign money for the unexpectedly low interest rates of 2014.
Oregon was #6 in the Nation for job growth in 2014.
Nationally, mortgage delinquencies are the lowest they have been since 2000.
We are entering a whole new world that has no historic precedent. The stimulus package is pretty much over. The Federal Reserve is no longer buying mortgage backed securities. The economy is going to have to hold up the anticipated growth on its own. Having said that, the Fed is prepared to jump back in and re-engage if needed. This shows how fragile this recovery is. There is a lot of uncertainty.
The world situation has a lot of areas of concern. Ebola and ISIS were not on our radar a year ago. A major event can derail our economy. These events are not just difficult to hear about because of their horror, they also have an impact on our economy through things like consumer confidence and political turmoil.
Slowly gathering strength
On the whole, our economy is slowly gathering strength. As the job market grows and people feel more financially stable, they start to make decisions to improve their lives. Buying a new home is a big part of that picture.
Mr. Mitchell did advise that interest rates are likely to go up in 2015, but it will be fact driven. If the economy is not rebounding, they will stay low. If the economic rebound gets stronger, they will go up. Odd to think that rising interest rates are triggered by good news, but they are.
My personal thought on all of this is that our government and the Fed need our housing market to continue to rebound. It is vital to our National economic health. I have confidence that the housing market will stay on track with slow and steady growth.
As always, thanks for reading The Blotter,