Lynn Michaelis, who was chief economist at Weyerhaeuser for 37 years before his retirement in 2009 and is still active in his own consulting group, gave a bright outlook to a full crowd of commercial and industrial real estate players on Thursday.
“The U.S. economy doesn’t have any serious economic problems (and) consumers are still very healthy,” Michaelis says. “We should see somewhat stronger growth in the year ahead,” but not likely to President Trump’s goal of 4 percent. The only real problem is there are too many policy uncertainties coming out of the new administration and the White House.
“The local (Puget Sound) marketplace remains ‘Hot’ and employment growth should continue near 3 percent. Unemployment will go down to around 3.7 percent, compared to the national 4.7 percent,” this forecaster predicted. He also noted that housing prices in this region have gone up 45 percent since 2011, though he doesn’t see that as a “bubble” because there continues to be a shortage of homes relative to demand.
Michaelis is seeing no end to the regional boom of recent years and there shouldn’t be a recession across the nation soon either. Even inflation remains a non-issue.
Suggesting some “uncertainties” that could threaten his optimistic outlook, Michaelis points to: Potential for some unknown shift from China or Russia that could impact the rest of the world.
“Then, there is that ‘New Cowboy’ in Washington, D.C.,” who has a lot of new ideas being thrown at the nation and the world all at once, the economist summarized for the luncheon organized by NAIOP South Sound..