Banfield Summit explores economic recovery; challenges remain, economist predicts


Banfield Summit explores economic recovery; challenges remain, economist predicts.

Portland, Ore.

– The recession hit bottom, according to a leading economist. But weakening of the commercial real-estate market threatens a U.S. recovery and could potentially send the economy into a double-dip recession.

Philip J. Romero, dean of California State University's College of Business and Economics, made the sobering remarks at Banfield's 2009 Pet Healthcare Industry Summit, which brought together 100 thought leaders from practice, associations and industry to discuss topics of concern to the animal-health market.

Fears about the lingering impacts of this recession on veterinary care are leading the list.

Romero served as California's chief economist from 1991 to 1999 and acted as an economic adviser to President George W. Bush during the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

This economic event, he says, will likely go down as a "baby" depression. If government had not moved on an economic stimulus plan, the consequences would have been far worse, he says.

This recession swept through most of the world, impacting the major economies in Europe, Russia and all of North America. China and India were two countries reporting growth over the last year.

Keep in mind that recessions caused by the collapse of financial markets tend to be deeper and last longer, Romero adds. And the recovery will take longer too.

But the most recent indicators are showing signs of improvement.

Home prices are stabilizing; home-building starts have increased three months in a row and have hit three-year highs; retail sales are flattening; automobile makers have run through inventories because of the success of the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program, benefits from other infrastructure spending have yet to be realized. Ultimately, the leading economic indicators are all pointing toward a market bottom and upturn, Romero explains.

But the U.S. economy faces many challenges that could potentially derail a recovery including inflation, rising unemployment (10 percent average in the United States is not out of the question), continued softening of retail sales and the spiraling costs of healthcare.

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