PNC Financial Services Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman told a group of pension fund managers Tuesday that he sees a light at the end of the recession tunnel but they should not get too excited. Hoffman says things are “getting somewhat better” for the national and global economy and there is some optimism among fellow analysts, business leaders and consumers. He notes tat “the new ‘up’ is ‘less down’” but that is about to change. He says things should begin to turn around later this year and unemployment numbers will begin to recover in 2010 but that does not mean the economy will be roaring anytime soon. He says, “There are to many speed bumps” on the path to recovery but he says they are not “roadblocks.” Hoffman says among the issues that could retard the rebound is the possibility of a continued slow global economy, high oil prices, changing consumer trends and slow job growth. He says with oil in the 60-70 dollar range the economy can rebound but oil at 80-90 dollars a barrel could kill the recovery. Hoffman says he thinks the federal stimulus package is having an impact but with so much of the money having to pass through state and municipal governments we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. He says the impact will continue to be felt in to the new year. Locally, Hoffman says the economy is doing better than many other parts of the country, partially because it did not have the big build up going into the recession. However, he says the regional economy is poised to rebound as quickly as the rest of the nation. That is something that the region has not seen coming out of past recessions. He says one factor to watch is the global economy. The Pittsburgh region now has strong global ties and Hoffman says the local economy will need to have those markets recover if it is to fully participate in the rebound. Hoffman says small business success will also be a key to the local economic recovery.
Click here to listen to Stewart Hoffman's full address.