Business Pulse Magazine: Winter 2013
The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance
THE FEARLESSLY FORECASTING FIVE: (from left) Dennis Murphy, Hart Hodges, John Mitchell, Chris Lawless, and Michael Parks. Staff photo 2013 Economic (Fuzzy) Forecast Not rolling in clover, but might we catch a little luck with ’13? Compiled by the Staff of Business Pulse Magazine W e don’t have a crystal ball in our office. So we borrowed one. Or five, depending on how you look into it – globally, so to speak, or from various angles. When you look into these crystal balls, we recommend sitting down. You could get dizzy, because the forecast they hold often is blurred in a morass of fiscalcliffshrinkingdollarglobalmessAmazo nrocksFeddoesn’t swirly stuff like those little snow globes you shake. (Eventually those clear up to reveal a lovely scene. Let’s hope.) The prescience we sought comes from five preeminent, professorial sources in the field that we will, pun intended, write capitalized: Economics. Over the last quarter-century or so during December, banking giant US Bank regional administration has presented a panel discussion in Bellingham of the Annual Economic Forecast. On Dec. 11, 12 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM 2012, assessing the 2013 outlook the title was “Facing the CliffPlayers in Place.” Dr. Dennis Murphy, Dean Emeritus of the College of Business & Economics at Western Washington University and still working the classrooms he has filled since 1983, has served as emcee and narrator of the event every year. He leads us off. The panelists consisted of three who have done them all—Christopher Lawless speaking on British Columbia and Canada issues, Michael J. Parks on Washington state, and Dr. John W. Mitchell on the regional and national scene— and one who joined them about halfway along the trail, Dr. Hart Hodges, on Whatcom County matters. To list their full credentials would fill this entire magazine. In the reader’s digest version: • Hodges wears two hats -- Director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at WWU, and local business co-partner at Waycross Investment Managing Company. • Lawless serves as chief economist for the B.C. Investment Management Corp. in Victoria, B.C. • Parks is editor emeritus of Marple’s NW Business Letter in Seattle and has a long-time newspaper background in business reporting. • Mitchell represents US Bancorp out of Portland, Ore., as a former economist for the company’s western region. They graciously loaned us their future-gazing power points, with cooperation from Ann Caldwell, President of the Northwest Washington Region of US Bank. We took notes at the event, culled highlights from their presentations, and condensed a veritable plethora of information into your CliffsNotes package. The singular conclusion of their highlights, lowlights, and in-between lights when shined on 2013 could best be summed up as gloom short of doom on a long, slow, winding road toward (but still shy of) recovery. None on the panel qualified as a pure, out-and-out pessimist. But their forecasts ran similarly fuzzy, and the overriding theme of the expertise of these men who know was, “Who knows?” Dr. Murphy set the tone with his introductory remarks, and then we undertook the difficult chore of highlighting summarized versions of the panelists’ points. Editing a wealth of good, interesting charts, bullet points, and notes of their spoken presentations made for difficult choices – it was all compelling. We borrowed from different parts and combined them into one to create an economic outlook premise of 13 for ’13.