Many Questions, No Answers

By Michael Fryzel

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For the last 24 months and for at least the next 14, the most talked about subject, has been and will be, the economy. 

Will inflation slow down? Will there be a recession? Will the Fed increase or decrease the interest rate? What will be the price of a gallon of gas? Will the holiday season be strong enough to save struggling retail stores? Will the cost of groceries ever go down? How high will mortgage rates go?

In addition, the crises erupting in Israel, Gaza and Ukraine will continue to be part of the nightly news, as will crime in our cities, devastating storms, worker strikes and the all-important question, will it be Biden vs Trump, again? 

All these “other” news events are important and will have an impact on individual lives across the world. And, each one of them, in some way, will have an impact on the economy; again, making it the one subject that will continue to dominate everyone’s life. 

Looking to the Experts

To get the answers to all these questions about the economy, everyone always looks to the experts. Every day economists are asked what they see happening today, tomorrow and the next day. The majority of them will pontificate. They will point to statistical data, historical trends, consumer borrowing and spending, and the wars in the Middle East and across the globe. As designated experts, they feel the need to respond even though what they may be saying is only their best guess.

In the past, economists have always based their predictions on past performance, length of cycles, regulatory action and world events to predict fairly well when things would get better and back to some resemblance of normality. Reliance on those benchmarks were once considered a reliable forecast for the future. Now, however, they haven’t proved to be the most accurate.

‘Not Going to Happen’

You are probably expecting a summary to this short dissertation that will include a list of what is needed to be done to put our country on a path to a strong economy and world peace. That’s not going to happen.

Just like the economists, the Federal Reserve, our illustrious Congress, political candidates and fortune tellers, I do not have any answers or predictions. 

What I do know, my fellow Americans, is what you know as well. We need to buckle up, because before it gets better, it’s going to get worse. 

Mr. Fryzel is the former chairman of NCUA who is now in private practice in Chicago.