Economic Summit brings together business leaders to hear national, regional trends
The national economic outlook, trade policies and the possibility of a recession were all points of discussion during Thursday’s annual Economic Summit at the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.
The event’s featured speaker was Mark Vitner, director and senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, who is responsible for tracking U.S. and regional economic trends.
He said recession concerns have abated significantly as, among other things, stock markets have reached new all-time highs.
There are a few obvious imbalances present in the economy today and growth is broadening, he said.
Vitner said the real GDP growth, or real gross domestic product rate growth, across the country has decelerated from a 3% pace last year to about 2% and looks set to slow even further. He said most of the slowdown is tied to weakening global growth and its impact on exports and capital spending.
He also talked about tax reform and said it continues to bolster real after-tax income, but trade uncertainty has upended the boost to capital spending.
“After cutting rates three times, the federal government is likely on pause until early next year or possibly even later,” he said, referring to the Federal Reserve’s recent moves on interest rates.
He said views about the prospects for a China trade deal appear too pessimistic and while a deal will take time, a short-term and long-term agreement are in the best interests of both nations. Vitner said negotiations remain contentious.
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