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Monday AM September 14th, 2009

Houston was one of the last areas to be hit by the recession. And a Federal Reserve Bank economist says it could be one of the last areas to recover. Ed Mayberry reports.



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Federal Reserve Bank, Houston branchHigher prices for oil and gas helped Houston weather recessionary factors longer.  But Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, Houston branch, senior economist Bill Gilmer wonders whether Houston will be able to recover at the same rate as the rest of the country.

“The big question is, is Houston — which was one of the last in to this recession — are we the first out of the last out?  The last in, last out question really hinges, I think, on energy for Houston.  We were driven by a big commodity boom that carried us for a long time.  It’s the reason we were the last in — commodities didn’t collapse until way late in this recession, and the question is how quickly do they come back and we start getting a lot of help from oil. It’s always oil that separates Houston from the rest of the country.”  

Consumers are bombarded with facts and figures in economic updates: the Beige Book, weekly jobless figures, consumer sentiment, and so on.  But Gilmer recommends looking at the Federal Reserve Web site for an overview.

“There’s not really one good source for this kind of thing.  But you know, we get paid to follow the economy.  We do it pretty objectively.  Tons of information and viewpoints and perspective pieces really geared to the public, where our economists make a huge effort to communicate to the public current economic conditions, policy measures — many of these things that wind in this popular press are presentations to our board of directors to help them understand what’s going on.”

Gilmer spoke at the recent Houston Business Summit at the Federal Reserve Bank on Allen Parkway. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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