On the Scene: John Mitchell delivers 2018 economic forecast

Economist John Mitchell delivers an upbeat economic forecast for 2018.


During the 2018 annual Economic Forecast hosted by the Portland Business Alliance this morning, economist John Mitchell said the Oregon business community is starring in one of two movies: "As Good as it Gets," or "Top Gun," specifically, the parts with the "Danger Zone" theme song.

In other words, prosperity reigns, but threats to economic security loom on the horizon. 

Most of Mitchell's hour-long talk emphasized the "As Good as it Gets," element: net worth rising, increases in median family income, a restrained flow of regulatory activity, record job numbers, tax reform, a booming tech sector.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mitchell noted, rated Oregon as the 9th fastest-growing state in the nation. He advised business leaders in the room to brighten their expectations for 2018. 

Even Portland's affordability crisis couldn't get Mitchell down. He looked up the price of his house at the beginning and end of the year and found it had dropped — in bitcoin, that is — from 360 to 26. 

IMG 0827John Mitchell weaves through the audience, delivering his annual economic forecast

Mitchell praised the recently passed Republican tax reform package, which cuts the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% but eliminates some loopholes.

"Everybody knew this had to change, Ds and Rs," Mitchell said. "Now we look more like the rest of the world." Cuts to the corporate tax rate, Mitchell predicted, will boost the stock market. 

On the other hand, he hinted that Trump's harsh immagration rhetoric makes little sense in a tight labor market. "Where are we gonna get the people?" he questioned. 

IMG 0827 1Mitchell delivered his talk at the Sentinel Hotel ballroom 

Mitchell discussed other political headwinds, or what he referred to as a potential "danger zone."

Jeff Sessions' descision to rescind the Cole memo could throw the cannabis industry into turmoil. The Russia probe or other drama surrounding President Trump could shock the economy into submission. There's also the threat of rising inflation, and uncertainty surrounding leadership changes at the Fed, with Janet Yellen stepping down in a month. 

We'll leave you with some of the most evocative lines from Mitchell's annual economics poem: 

Tax reform and infrastructure were elements of the last campaign
but nothing was fast in his chaotic reign

Bitcoin, sex, and taxes the news media did fill
voices were raised, the cacophany quite shrill

Cut rates changed deductions, capital expensing and more
Will it be a cataylst for the growth rate more than before

The dreamers and healthcare remain issues being played
The government shutdown has yet to be stayed

The region once more has been atop the performance list
More people, more jobs, and home gains that persist

Amid affordability, capacity, and labor force constraints
Job growth in 2018 will see restraint

Caleb Diehl

Caleb Diehl is a reporter at Oregon Business

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