Economist: State Businesses to Face Slow Growth

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Interest rates and labor costs favor American companies today, but headwinds from federal programs like Obamacare along with rising regulations will slow business growth, says a national economist set to speak in metro Detroit next month.   

Speakers at the Engineering Society of Detroit’s Economic Forecast Conference on Oct. 17 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi will outline the future of Michigan industries, including energy, health care, and automotive. Other speakers will highlight how recent economic trends will impact businesses and consumers.

The event will kick off with a presentation by Paul Traub, a longtime economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch, who will highlight “where we stand in this recovery versus other post recoveries.”

“One of the things we tend to lose sight of in the U.S. is that we are doing remarkably well when you compare us to other countries, post financial crisis,” Traub says. 

However, the economist is quick to note, “that’s not say we can’t do better, because we can.” He cites low inflation and high unemployment among the nation’s economic weaknesses.  

Overall, Traub says that he’s a bit more cautiously optimistic than he has been in the past. 

“Uncertainty in the marketplace and what’s going on in Washington, D.C. are huge headwinds,” he says. “But if you’re a businessman, and you look at the cost of capital and the cost of labor, I’d say these are good times. You can’t get capital much cheaper than where the interest rates are at now.”

In addition to Traub, the conference will include the following presentations:

  • Healthcare: James M. Safran, president and CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle at Beaumont Health Systems  
  • Energy: Steven Kurmas, president and COO of Detroit Edison
  • Transportation: Kim Avery, deputy region engineer at the Michigan Department of Transportation 
  • Automotive: Bernard Swiecki, assistant director of Automotive Communities Partnership and the Center for Automotive Research
  • Southeast Michigan: John Austin, president of the Michigan State Board of Education, director of the Michigan Economic Center, and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution

The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, visit www.esd.org or call 248-353-0735.

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