Harcum College CFO Offers Reasons for Optimism on the U.S. Economy in 2023
The past year was a challenging one for the U.S. economy because of inflation and a bear stock market. However, based on the cyclical nature of the economy and the emergence of encouraging signs, there is a reason for optimism at both the macro and micro levels.
Fundamentals of the Economy
Looking ahead to 2023, the fundamentals of the economy are looking stronger than during a typical recession.
First, inflation is cooling, gas prices are down in the past few months, and consumer prices for supplies and products (groceries, electronics) should stay flat or see only moderate increases because of the late aggressive Federal Reserve interest rates increases.
If you are considering borrowing, the current higher interest rates will make lending (for mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc.) more expensive. If you already have a fixed-rate loan, the higher rates won’t impact you.
But if you are considering a new loan for a home, car, or business, 2023 will not be the year to do so, nor to refinance.
In developed countries like the U.S., interest rates tend to go up and down every 10–15 years. Historically speaking, we are at the peak of the cycle of high inflation and high-interest rates. While it is not certain whether the economy will have a soft landing or a hard landing (a continued recessionary period), the low unemployment rate (around three percent) has mitigated the impact of two quarters of a negative GDP.
Usually, during recession periods, the unemployment rate is high. This has not been the case.
Consider that during the height of the pandemic, unemployment was 12 percent and businesses had to close, either for the short term or to cease operations altogether. The government instituted measures to pump money into the economy for businesses and individuals. When the subsidies ended, the economy grew too fast and too quickly.
Though the country still grapples with the after-effects of the pandemic, borrowing oil is under control and the international oil barrel price seems to be at low and manageable levels.
Impact on the Stock Market
If these economic indicators continue, they may have a positive impact on the stock market.
The effect could be a significant rebound in 2023, after U.S. stocks fell shockingly 20 percent in 2022. This drop impacted investment and retirement funds such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans.
Its rebound can be expected to be 8–10 percent this year or higher.
For those who invest, I believe this is not only a good moment to do so but also ensures the best position in any market investment. Having a diversified portfolio always limits an investor’s risk. Right now is a good time to review investment portfolios with an eye toward increasing diversification.
All in all, 2023 will likely be a year of economic recovery, with caution being exercised and consumer prices stabilizing.
Dario Bellot, Chief Financial Officer at Harcum College, Bryn Mawr, holds a B.A. in international business and an MBA from Universidad Argentina de la Empresa in Buenos Aires and completed Wharton‘s Executive Education program. He has 25 years’ experience in finance and operations in both the corporate and nonprofit worlds.
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