Economists See Silver Lining

Oct. 12, 2001

by Alan Hunt

Economic growth will return - that was the clear message of speakers at the 2002 Economic Forecast Conference presented by Baylor's Hankamer School of Business and the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Oct. 11.

The capacity crowd of more than 300 Central Texas business and civic leaders was described as the largest ever to attend the annual conference, held at the Waco Convention Center.

Speakers included Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Dr. Tom Kelly, director of Baylor's Center for Business and Economic Research, Dr. Ray Perryman, president of The Perryman Group, Waco, and Dr. Jim Tipton, associate professor of banking and finance at Baylor.

Rylander said she firmly believes that the new challenge and war following the September 11 terrorist attacks will not hurt the Texas economy, which she predicted will continue to outpace the U.S. economy by three and a half percentage points.

Kelly said there is potential for early recovery from an immediate recession and a lot of the pace of that economic recovery will hinge on consumer and investor confidence that, in turn, rides on the words and success of President Bush and the Congress in conveying an image of cohesive leadership.

He said his personal view is that President Bush will achieve more success in his newly defined leadership role than he would otherwise have been able to demonstate as he "quibbled with Congress over fine points of federal budget accounting." Kelly added, "Economic growth will return. The question that no one can answer right now is when and in what magnitude this will occur."

Perryman predicted that although the present period of economic uncertainty will linger through 2001, as the U.S. continues to implement its counterterrorist strategies, consumer confidence will be restored and overall consumer spending will strengthen. "In the not too distant future, the U.S. will again demonstrate the enhanced quality of living that inevitably comes from the free exchange of goods and services among civilized nations and the remarkable innovation that markets spawn," he stated.

Tipton urged care in deciding where to invest. "This is a very different kind of war than most Americans envision,"he warned. "Avoid using histories of past wars to make stock selections. Past history can be very misleading in this new type of warfare."

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