Colliers Exec: ‘Expansion, Not Recovery’

In the 7  1/2 years since June 2009, the official end of the Great Recession, the U.S. economy has struggled to maintain some sense of recovery, scratching out small gains in GDP most every quarter. Well, mission accomplished, says Andew Nelson, chief economist with the commercial realty firm Colliers International.

“It’s time to retire¬† the phrase ‘recovery,’ Nelson said Friday morning. “It’s an expansion.” Nelson spoke to roughly 400 business executives gathered for Colliers’ 2017 economic forecast breakfast at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. He offered an assessment for the commercial realty sector and the overall economy that was largely optimistic; by some key metrics, he pointed out, the nation had returned to peak performances recorded in the pre-recessionary days of 2007.

But he tempered that optimism with concerns about an economic expansion entering its final phase, and about the on-line shift in consumer purchasing that has dramatically changed the retail landscape. “The retail sector,” Nelson said, “will not achieve its former glory.”

Nelson’s assessment was a prelude to comments by Steve Feilmeier, chief financial officer for Wichita-based Koch Industries, who addressed national-level factors that will shape the economy this year. Chief among them are the potential for significant tax reforms that will benefit businesses (with the exception of the protectionist potential in the so-called “border-adjustment” levy proposed by Donald Trump). As signifcant, though, was the prospect that Washington’s executive departments will be adopting pro-business policies to dial back regulatory and compliance burdens, especially on small businesses–burdens that by some estimates account for $5 trillion in a $17 trillion gross domestic product.

He also addressed the prospect of higher interest rates in 2017, offering a historical perspective that could either calm the fears of those trembling at quarter-point incremental increases, or disappoint investors looking for something larger. “In a historical context,” Feilmeier said, “we haven’t even gotten started” with raising rates.