Speaking at an economic forecast conference in Houston, Comerica chief economist Robert Dye ticked off a grim list of headwinds facing the U.S.: Unemployment stagnating around 9%. Housing and consumer spending in the doldrums. The threat of a meltdown in the eurozone.
“My expectation is we’re right on the cusp. We’re at about a 50% likelihood of falling back into recession over the next, say, five quarters or so, before the end of 2012.”
Dye says if the U.S. does tip back into a recession, energy prices and trade should insulate Houston from its worst effects. Patrick Jankowski, vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership, agrees.
“If you look at the twenty largest trading partners for the Houston region, fifteen of them are in emerging markets. As long as the emerging markets of the developing world continue to grow, Houston should do fine as well.”
Emerging markets — such as China, India, and Brazil — account for about a third of the world economy and are now the main engine of global growth. Dallas-based Comerica acquired Houston’s Sterling Bancshares in July.