The message from business economist Brian Beaulieu at the 2018 Economic Outlook breakfast, sponsored by FEI Kansas City and ACG Kansas City, is that it’s time for businesses to invest in the resources they need – people, technology, customer relationships – to grow. He expects a tailwind of sustained economic growth in 2018 and the next several years.
“It’s time to double down. As we look out at the next two, three, four or five years, we don’t see any downside,” said Beaulieu, who is CEO of ITR Economics. “This is going to be good. Are you ready for how good it’s going to be in the next several years?”
Showing a wide range of statistics on the macro economy and specific sectors, Beaulieu said leading indicators are pointing to solid growth in 2018, a bit of leveling off in 2019, and another take-off in 2020 and 2021. Among the specifics:
- World industrial growth will be strong in the first half of 2018, decelerating in the second half. But his team is not expecting a recession for several years.
- The United States will remain the world’s leading economy for many years to come. China and several other countries face headwinds from negative demographic factors.
- Consumer spending and business investment will grow solidly this year, but the auto sector may slow down in 2019 due to rising auto loan delinquencies.
- “There’s going to be more inflation.” With wage growth of 3-4% per year coming, he said businesses should plan to increase prices to maintain profitability.
- Corporate America’s balance sheets are in good financial shape. Don’t be afraid to extend trade credit.
- Instead of hoarding cash, companies should see that “leverage is king now. Flip that mental switch from cash to leverage so that you can maximize the upswing that’s coming,” he said.
“Stop looking at Washington and what they’re doing. What you do every single morning is much more important, the decisions you make,” Beaulieu said. “And the decision we want you to make is that it’s ‘Go time.’”