I recently got to hear two economists speak about the direction the economy is going in. This first speaker was in Detroit at the ACG meeting last month. The second was in Cleveland last week at the NIRI Cleveland event. It would be hard to find two harder hit cities over the past few years, so the economy was a hot topic at these meetings.
I will be the first to say I should have listened more in those economics classes years ago. I have been learning, like everyone else, about the ebb and flow of our economic state by living in it over the past few years. You attend a lot of events and people are looking down at their electronic tethers all the time, me included, but not at these events as people wanted to hear if we have lived through the worst or if there was more bad news to come.
I got a chance to sit with the speaker in Cleveland and I asked him before he presented if he was going to show us that everything is getting better. He looked at me and said without any hesitation, “I will tell you what I think is happening, but then you will have to make your own conclusions”. That one sentence that he uttered set the tone for the whole meeting and he had me listening to everything he was saying. I was just empowered to make my own conclusion about the economy and I wasn’t going to be told if it was getting better or worse.
I will say I do believe the economy is getting better. I guess the correct way to sum up my feelings is cautiously optimistic. The pretty graphs and charts at these meetings didn’t sway me, it was honestly also the people attending that underlined the point. It almost felt like the thaw of winter had come and people were out and about shaking hands and looking to do business. I give economists a lot of credit because I believe their jobs are difficult and I could never do what they do. Attending networking events and empowering those around us to make decisions that will help drive the health of our economy isn’t on any of those economic indicator lists, but it sure is on mine and I saw it first hand at these two events.