GEF speaker forecasts slow and steady economic growth, encourages glass industry to invest
Economist Jeff Dietrich advised attendees at the 2012 Glazing Executives Forum to "make your move." Dietrich, senior analyst for the Institute for Trend Research, was the keynote speaker for the 7th annual forum, held Sept. 13 as part of GlassBuild America in Las Vegas. More than 200 glazing industry representatives attended the meeting, sponsored by the National Glass Association.
Dietrich provided an overview of six leading indicator signals that offer a broad view of the direction the U.S. economy is heading over the next six to 12 months. The indicators show there are no signs that the U.S. economy is fading or collapsing, and growth is above year-ago levels, and more gains are expected, Dietrich said.
Both nonresidential and residential construction segments are experiencing year-over-year growth. However, that growth has been, and will continue to be, slow.
"Construction trends are alive. Housing starts are up over 21.4 percent from one year ago. Housing affordability is at an all-time low. ... Home prices have hit bottom and are heading higher," Dietrich said. "Nonresidential construction is 14 percent above one year ago and showing surprising strength. Although the gains are well below the historic peaks of 2008, the recovery touches a broad swath from commercial to health care, manufacturing to malls, sports arenas to education institutions."
Dietrich also encouraged companies to make investments, particularly while interest rates remain low. "Invest time, money, personnel. Move forward and innovate," he said. "Embrace uncertainty. Get over the fear and the past. This is not about looking forward through the rearview mirror."
Companies that don't make their move will fall behind. "If you wait until the election, or until some other change happens in the market, you're going to be two years behind your sharpest competitors," Dietrich said.