ULI Washington News

Opening Keynote: Going Up for the Rebound Anirban Basu, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Sage Policy Group, Inc.

By Matt Blocher

The opening keynote speaker, Anirban Basu, set the stage for an exciting kick-off for the 2013 ULI Trends Conference.  Based in Baltimore, which as we were reminded, is home to the World Champion Ravens, Anirban is a serious sports fan, so it was a pleasant surprise that weaved into the presentation were many applicable sports analogies.

The first order of business was an overview of the global economy and the global financial markets.   With the tremendous amount of data that was shared, it was evident that the US economy is expanding, but not a brisk pace.  The US economy leads the majority of European economies, but continues to lag behind the strong performance of many of the advanced economies in Asia.  It was noted that the NYSE l DJIA stock exchange continues to lead the pack of all markets in the world.

As Mr. Basu began to discuss the US economy in greater detail, he noted that in May 2009, all 50 states were in a recession, which was the first time that this had happened since 1973.  Today, there are no states in recession, though there are a handful of states that are close to reentering a recession; a few states are still in a recovery mode.  He also noted that the US GDP has experienced 14 consecutive quarters of growth, which is positive, but the growth is not as robust as in past recoveries.

The focus of the presentation than shifted to the labor market.  Mr. Basu noted that there have been 1.91 million jobs created over the past 12-months, a positive sign, but yet again, not a robust as in past recoveries.  The professional services sector lead in the number of jobs created followed b the trade and transportation sector with education and healthcare rounding out the top three sectors.  It was a surprise for many of us to learn that North Dakota leads the nation with the lowest state unemployment rate; Maryland was #20, Virginia was #35 and DC was #41.  With that said, it was quickly pointed out that the Washington, DC Metropolitan area had the lowest unemployment rate (5.6%) out of the top 20 largest US metropolitan markets.

Mr. Basu then moved on to the real estate market in DC noting that our record low interest rates continue to fuel demand.  Over the past year, leading lending institutions have not tightened their standards, though they have not began to loosen many of the guidelines; thus, obtaining a mortgage for many remains out of reach.  Home sales in the US have stabilized, but growth has been limited due to the lack of production over the past couple of years.  This should begin to shift, as new permits issued on all classes of housing continue to rise.

This very engaging session ended with a few thoughts on the economic outlook for the upcoming year; both on a national and on a local level.  I would encourage you to review Mr. Basu’s presentation, as there is an abundance of excellent information contained in it.

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