Roundabout 11.1.18

Roundabout, Nov. 1, 2018

Next Meeting

 

Michelle Moyd will speak about World War I in observance of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. The meeting will be in the Frangipani Room. A professor in IU’s history department, she specializes in the history of eastern Africa. She is working on a book that examines the spectrum of African experiences in World War I, especially as soldiers and workers.

 

This Week’s News

Fairview’s Trunk or Treat Night

Rotarians took part in Trunk or Treat Night Oct. 24 at Fairview School. Glenda Murray reported that some of the students played their violins, even in the cold weather. There was Trunk or Treat, the Fall Scholastic Book Sale was in the library, and Clifford the Big Red Dog made an appearance.

 

Remembering Wain Martin

A memorial service for club member Wain Martin, who died October 18, will be held at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 4. The family will receive visitors at 3 p.m., and the funeral service starts at 4 p.m. Donations of personal hygiene materials will be gladly accepted and forwarded to the Monroe County Correctional Center.

Nov. 1 program: Business Outlook Panel

The Nov. 1 meeting was the annual Business Outlook Panel co-sponsored by Rotary and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. Four faculty members from IU’s Kelley School of Business reviewed their predictions for 2018 and offered their forecast for 2019.

Their overall forecast was positive.

Bill Witte, professor emeritus of economics, kicked off the presentations with a look at the national economy. He focused on output, the labor market and prices – as well as pointing out things that could happen that will make his outlook “not quite right.”

He said the economic output has grown just over 3 percent, which matches his prediction from a year ago when he said it would grow 2.5 percent, and another half percent if tax reform passed, which it did. He predicted 3 percent growth again in 2019.

He estimated last year that 170,000 to 175,000 jobs a month would be added to the labor market, when through the first nine months of the year 208,000 jobs per month have been added. He said 200,000 a month in 2019 is “achievable.”

Last year, he said the 4.1 unemployment rate would tick down to 4.0, but in fact it is now at 3.7 percent, the lowest since the 1960s. He said the rate can’t drop much more but predicted it could go to 3.5 percent.

On prices, he said inflation will grow to 2.5 percent from 2.0 percent, “with a threat of more.”

Overall, he said the economy has been “better than OK” and the panel sees 2019 as a sequel to 2018. However, “sequels almost never measure up to the original,” he said, noting that a lot of things could go wrong. He listed government spending, rising interest rates, slowed business investment and a trade war with China as things to worry about.

Charles Trzcinka, professor of finance, noted the volatility of the financial markets was very low in 2017 and early in 2018, “but that’s changed.” He said the ups and downs during the year gained and lost $3.5 trillion. He pointed to trade policy and uncertainty about monetary policy as causes.

Tim Slaper from the Indiana Business Research Center said overall the panel is optimistic – not “cautiously or guardedly” but out-and-out optimistic. He and the panel see Indiana in a good position, with economic output to grow at a rate of 3.2 percent. Indiana has the lowest unemployment rate among its five-state region, and the state is expected to stay at full employment during the next year.

Slaper said there are some warning signs to consider. One is a trade war with China. Another is that Indiana is last in the region in attracting venture capital. Growth in jobs is not as good as growth in output, and the opioid crisis is weighing down the labor force and productivity.

Jerry Conover, director of the Indiana Business Research Center, talked about the Bloomington economy. He said it had healthy 7 percent growth from 2007 to 2017. He noted that the government sector grew the fastest.

There was a recent boom, he said in professional, scientific, and technical services, but shrinkage in real estate, rental and construction.

The population growth of the metropolitan area, which includes Monroe and Owen counties, was twice the state average. The metro area population is about 168,000, he said. He said the 3.2 percent unemployment rate is “a very respectable figure” but that per capita personal income is about $12,000 below the national average of $49,000.

He said he sees continued growth and several hundred new jobs in the next year.

 

Our November 1 meeting

President Loren Snyder led the Pledge and reflection, in which he acknowledged that many different types of people had come together as one for the meeting. He asked for a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Erin Predmore, president and CEO of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, the co-sponsor of the Business Outlook Panel, encouraged people to vote in next Tuesday’s election.

Because of the nature of the annual Business Outlook luncheon, no birthdays or anniversaries were announced and no guests were introduced.

Loren concluded the meeting by asking people to consider their blessings while thinking of the many children in the world who die each day because they lack access to safe drinking water. He invited people to join the Bloomington Rotary Club and Rotarians worldwide in addressing this important issue.

 

Bob Zaltsberg, Reporter

Charlie Osborne, Photographer