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Chamber hosts annual Economic Outlook luncheon

AMERICUS — The Americus-Sumter Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the School of Business Administration, Georgia Southwestern State University, held the annual Economic Outlook for 2015 and Beyond luncheon Tuesday.

Fsatured speaker was Robert Bennett, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Business Administration.

Bennett’s presentation was optimistic.

“Relatively speaking, things are in pretty good shape right now,” he told the audience.

Bennetts shared several talking points during the program.

• Jobs report from Friday was incredibly good. Very encouraging.

• Consumers are spending and things are looking good for future consumption.

• Fuel prices are low.

• Interest rates are due to increase but should remain relatively low.

• Inflation is in check, or at least more-so than the Fed fears.

• Relative to the rest of the world, the U.S. economy is a dream scenario.

Bennett also cautioned, “But we should definitely recognize significant ‘head winds’” such as the following.

• Much of the rest of the world is chaotic and volatile.

• Europe (Germany) vs. Greece.

• China.

• Canada?

• Russia and Ukraine.

• Cyber attacks.

• Terrorism.

• Stronger dollar has hurt businesses with international exposure and will make the trade deficit worse.

• Business spending, especially capital expenditures, are down and could go lower with tighter Fed policy.

• Access to capital is constrained (partially by regulation) and loan demand remains relatively low. New regulation will hurt markets.

• Low GDP growth isn’t a recession but can feel a bit like one.

• Federal spending needs pruning and will be good in the long run, but the process can be painful.

• Slight slow-down in agricultural demand.