enLIGHTenment – The Lighting Industry Trade Publication

Be Prepared for the Next Economic Ride

Over the next few years, the U.S. economy will continue to grow, but watch out for a
hard hit by 2030.

During the recent ALA Conference in Asheville, N.C., attendees were privy to a long-range economic forecast by renowned economist Brian Bealieu, CEO of ITR Economics.  While his overall message was one of growth for the near future, he did warn of trouble down the road.

In a tumultuous year for Americans on both a political and cultural level, it can be difficult to maintain optimism in viewing “the big picture.” In his keynote session “Prosperity in the Age of Decline,” Bealieu presented a balanced approach that can best summarized by the original Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.”

Part of that big picture-thinking was showing the audience statistics on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a global level. “People sometimes don’t realize how big of a country we are,” Bealieu said in speaking of economic influence. The U.S. is responsible for 24.3 percent of the world’s GDP, followed by China at 15 percent, and Japan at 6.1 percent.

“The U.S. population is growing by 1 person every 13 seconds, and that’s not counting legal immigration,” he remarked. “All of the stories about the U.S.’s imminent demise aren’t true; we’re going to remain number one [in global GDP], but what we go through, the whole world will go through [afterwards].”

Bealieu noted that there will be a slow down in the economy for 2019-2020. “Budget for growth, yes, but budget for slower growth,” he explained, adding, “Lowering taxes is not a recipe for boosting the economy.”

The long-range forecast at Bealieu’s company, ITR, is that we might not see an economic slump like we experienced in 2008-2009 for another 10 to 12 years. “By 2030, we [businesses] have to be very good at what we do. We will be headed for a difficult time – not unlike the Great Depression – if you are not prepared,” he cautioned.

There are a multitude of factors that contribute to a Depression. Bealieu detailed several key drivers: Demographics, Healthcare Costs, Entitlements, Inflation, and the National Debt. “Costs are going up like we haven’t seen since the 1970s,” he added. It’s time to become more tax-savvy.

“I’ve been asked, ‘What should I tell my kids?’ Tell them that they need to live below their means and to learn a second language — French,” Bealieu stated. “The next China is going to be Africa, and French is a common language in Africa.”

“All of the stories about the U.S.’s imminent demise aren’t true; we’re going to remain number one [in global GDP].”

The upcoming generation should choose careers oriented toward the opportunities in the future economy, such as the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] disciplines. “An individual who is strong in math and bilingual is someone who will always be employed,” he remarked.

“I believe in Millennials and what they can do,” he said of the largest population group in the country. 

Bealieu’s guidelines for surviving the next rocky road in the economy is to:

Pay off as much debt as you can by 2030
Be ready to buy at the price cycle low in the Depression
Be self-reliant

The strongest business owners and individuals will be those who stop relying on the government and other people for assistance. “Use this knowledge to move forward. The future is yours to write,” He said. “If you know the headwinds are coming, you can plan ahead to help your family.” 

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