- March 09, 2010, By Yolanda Simonsis, Associate Publisher/Editor
INDIAN WELLS, CA | Frank Gerace of MultiColor Corp. and president of the Tag & Label Mfrs. Inst. set the tone for the annual converter meeting on March 8, themed "You Survived the Great Recession, Now What?" Held at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Gerace's preliminary remarks indicated it was fitting for the association to hold the meeting at an oasis in the desert where they could discover ways to grow personally and professionally and from which they could hopefully take home and apply to their businesses.
Offering positive insight on the economy, the first speaker, Peter Ricchiuti of Tulane Univ's A.B. Freeman School of Business, shared information that many felt like soothing balm on wounds still burning from what feels like an incendiary recession.
As founder and director of research of Burkenroad Reports, Ricchiuti delivered a presentation unlike any other I have heard on the present confounding economy. His delivery shared all the hallmarks of a brilliant financial Robin Williams routine, complete with parenthetical and often stinging commentary, acerbic wit, and perfect timing. As promised in meeting chairperson Brian Gale's introduction, he is indeed the professor we all wished we could have had in college.
Key points Ricchiuti made included the following:
* Regardless of which recession under examination, each has always ended, and the economy has always risen to a higher plateau. This recession will not be any different.
* Whether you like Ben Bernanke or not, he's the best scholar on the Great Depression, so take heart.
*This time the economic recovery will be led by other countries instead of the US dragging others along.
* There are about 1.5 million too many homes, although much of these housing problems are regionally based. It will take about 12 months of sales for any improvement to show in this sector.
*Prices will remain stubbornly high. We will need high prices--particularlyin the energy field--to make competing technologies worth development, but not so high to derail the recovery.
*Unemployment is slowly improving, and 401K accounts have been rising for almost a year. Housing prices have been up in each of the last several months.
*There has been quarter-to-quarter real growth in GDP. Some say growth will be V-shaped, others a bath-tub shape. He calls for a "square-root" shape that goes down, then up, then levels off.
* The weak US dollar is helping manufacturing and equalizing our trade balance.
* Interest rates may be raised in the second quarter, indicating the economy is surely on the mend.
*During economic downturns disproportionately good things happen: Procter & Gamble started in the panic of 1837; GE started in the panic of 1893; General Motors started in the panic of 1907.
* Our future has not been cancelled, and our economic problems are not insurmountable.
*Have patience, it won't happen over night. Capitalism works!