Jointly Sponsored Virtual Event Talks ‘COVID, Confidence, And Congress’
People’s United Advisors CIO and EVP John S. Traynor offered a dose of economic expectations for a virtual presentation on March 25.
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal thanked the sponsors, the Chamber of Commerce of Newtown, People’s United Bank, and the Newtown Economic and Community Development, for the presentation near its start.
“It’s always great to have [Traynor] here to go over the economic forecast... And what a year it has been,” Rosenthal said.
Noting that there is “a lot going on in Washington and Hartford” that will have big impacts on the year ahead, Traynor began his presentation.
He is positive about the economy for three primary reasons: The stimulus is unprecedented, there is a big shift in federal policy, and vaccination rates in the community are surpassing goals.
Traynor shared graphs and explanations throughout the presentation, noting along the way that the pandemic slammed the brakes on the economy but current models could indicate the economy is returning.
There are some curious things to be noted, Traynor explained: A normal indicator for normal economic strengthening would be an increase in wage rates. However, last March as the pandemic spread, wage rates “shot through the roof,” as low-wage workers lost their jobs. It is counterintuitive to want the chart to decline for wage rates, but Traynor said it will mean jobs are returning.
“For Main Street to rebound,” Traynor said, consumer confidence needs to also rebound.
“Consumer confidence is one of the things we are watching very, very carefully,” Traynor said.
Businesses, he observed, are waiting to see how consumers react.
The leisure and hospitality industry took a jobs hit, despite normally proving strong in a recession, and Traynor also noted that the tourism industry in New England was hit hard in the pandemic.
“We are really leading the country in unemployment [in the tourism industry],” said Traynor.
But Traynor also said the “seed of our economic growth is healthy,” when talking about the manufacturing industry, which he noted was flirting with all-time highs.
Sharing a COVID-19 vaccination graph, Traynor said, “Hopefully this will lead to increased consumer confidence, which will lead to increased small business confidence.”
Traynor also spoke about the “tremendous move to the suburbs” and its possible impacts on working life.
“We are anticipating a good housing market for some time to come,” said Traynor.
Looking ahead, Traynor shifted focus to discuss possible paths the economy could take and possible investment trends, and he fielded numerous questions from participants on things like the local “real estate run,” GameStop stock news headlines, cryptocurrencies, and more.
Chamber of Commerce of Newtown Executive Director Helen Brickfield thanked Traynor for his time saying, “We’re going to take your advice and lean into the wind.”