Thursday AM May 21st, 2009

The Houston Growth Summit looks at what’s ahead for 2009. Ed Mayberry reports.

image of Houston skylineThree economists presented current statistics for the Houston area in real estate, employment and imports and exports at the summit — part of the Houston Business Journal‘s “Celebrate! Enterprise” event. Economist Ray Perryman says there are several things to watch to know when the economy is turning around, starting with an improved credit market and an improved real estate picture.

“Energy is a vital part of this economy. I think it’s going to be important for Houston to, as they’ve been doing more, and do some of some of the alternative energies, some of the different ways of delivering energy and that sort of thing. A second big part of Houston is the international trade, because of the port and the huge role the port plays. And the third thing in Houston that is huge is the Medical sector — keeps growing and growing and growing. Today in the short-term, obviously oil is down, global trade is down, you know, and so Houston feels the effects of that. But fundamentally it’s a very good economy.”

Perryman says government is trying to promote job growth and is making tax adjustments, but he warns that government help should be temporary.

“People can criticize that, and again, at some point ten years down the road someone can look back and write a real nice book about what was done right and what was done wrong and that sort of thing, and be absolutely correct in their analysis. But they didn’t have to sit there in the room and do it at, you know, in real time as all these things were unfolding. And so, you know, I commend the efforts that are being put forth and, you know, I have friends in both parties and friends that have voted for and against various initiatives. I mean, everybody’s trying to get it right. Some of things we’re doing now, can they lead to inflation in the future? Of course they can, but that’s the kind of trade-offs we face. When the Treasury groups meet right now, you know they’re basically given a menu that says ‘bad choice, bad choice, bad choice,’ and you have to pick one.”

Perryman was part of a panel that included Stewart Title’s Ted Jones, who would like to see across-the-board refinancing for up-to-date mortgage payers, and the Federal Reserve’s Adriana Fernandez, who says the Port of Houston is forecasting its first-ever revenue loss this year.

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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