Even though the U.S. economy keeps humming along and soon may record the longest expansion in modern history, “there are signs of a slowdown,” an economist reported Friday morning at a business forecast conference in Universal City.
Sarah House, the senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co., said the 3.5 percent increase in the gross domestic product reported Friday is the continuation of a “pretty strong environment.” Over the past 10 years, consumers have repaired their finances. And now, household wealth is at an all-time high and unemployment is at a 50-year low.
But “we’re seeing some capacity constraints,” she said. With the tightening of the labor market and moderate inflation taking off, signs of a slowdown are starting to show. “We’re likely to see profit growth start to slow.”
She said “it doesn’t mean recession is around the corner,” but that risks of one are starting to appear.
House was the kickoff speaker at the Valley Industry and Commerce Association’s annual Business Forecast Conference held at the Hilton Universal City hotel. The event featured an economic forecast breakfast followed by panel discussions on various business and political topics and a luncheon with speeches by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Southern California Gas Co. President Bret Lane. About 400 attended.
At the morning session, House said that the Federal Reserve hasn’t been very successful at engineering soft landings, and she believes that by about late 2020, the Fed will need to start reversing some of its interest rate increases to stimulate the economy.
Another morning speaker, Jeffrey A. Kravetz, the regional investment director for U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management, built his report on the California economy, which he said is “gaining steam.” He said if it were its own country, California would be the fifth biggest in the world. Four years ago, it would have been eighth.
California’s GDP will be about 2.3 percent this year and 2.1 percent next year. Although that’s slower than the U.S. growth rate, it is still good.
Exports are up. Tourism is up, and manufacturing has rebounded, at least in terms of the value of goods produced, he said. Entertainment remains a keystone industry.
However, he opined that the state in effect has two economies: the prosperous coastal regions and the struggling inland zones.
And since the state is more expensive that others, he said, that will hurt economically. Not only are people not migrating to the state, they continue leaving.