NC State’s Dr. Mike Walden – Big Changes are Occurring
Much of the economic news we hear is dismal, yet often we can see a glass half full rather than half empty. N.C. State University economist provides some glass-half-full examples of today’s economy.
“First of all, the housing market, clearly the housing market has had a rough time over the last four to five years. Prices went down. Sales went down. High rates of unemployment. There seems to be a situation now where the housing market appears to have bottomed out and is beginning to make modest improvements. We’re starting to see sales increase, new construction increase, and prices appear to have stopped falling. So, that’s a very, very important source of some limited optimism in the economy.
“Secondly, debt — household debt — which was at a record high prior to the recession, is now going down. The household debt-income ratio was 140 percent about five years ago. Today it’s down to about 115 percent. So, households have been working very, very hard to get their financial balance sheet back in order.
“Thirdly, exports. Exports have been booming from our country in terms of sales of products we make to other countries. Our trade deficit has been cut in half. That has implications in the long run for how we fund our spending, how we fund our national debt.
“And then thirdly, energy. There has been a dramatic change in energy production in our country, increasing from natural gas, from oil, from derivatives of oil. We are becoming more energy self-sufficient. We’re certainly not totally energy self-sufficient, but for those who want us to become more energy self-sufficient, we’re clearly moving in that direction.”