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Forum finds Houston a bright spot in gloomy national economic picture

NORTH HOUSTON– Five speakers at the NHG Chamber’s Annual Economic Forum looked for the bright side of the economy in their areas of expertise, but the keynote speaker, Mark Dotzour, thought we are on the verge of a recession, and that the government and business ought to admit it as part of the remedy for getting out.
Although he admitted that economists are often 50% wrong in their predictions, nevertheless he reviewed various factors in our nationwide economic picture that are in trouble, including credit markets, housing, commercial real estate, and commodity prices.
However, in contrast to the nation, he saw Houston and Dallas maintaining a bright spot in their local economies, especially in real estate.

Although he predicted that 2008 will be a difficult year, he saw things improving in 2009, and after 2010 he thinks the economy is set for a very good future. Lower federal interest rates will continue, and the adjustable rate mortgages will expire, helping that market. Even oil prices should fall, he said, perhaps to the real cost of $60 a barrel.
His suggestions for current investments to protect your capital in a falling market include gold, high quality commercial real estate, land, foreign currency, and 10 year treasury bills.
He noted that Oil prices, such as $100 per barrel currently, are cyclical, and will adjust downward. Currently these prices are benefitting Texas towns with economies based on oil.
Other speakers included Gallery Furniture’s Jim McIngvale, who welcomed participants and spoke on the retail economy. Although he saw 2007 as one of his slowest years, he suggested that chaos always should be looked at as an opportunity for innovation and improvement. He also announced that Gallery will furnish 132 USO offices throughout the world without cost, as a donation to servicemen and women.
Judge Ed Emmett spoke on transportation matters, and how they affect the economy. Historically and currently, he felt that Houston was a transportation hub, with great promise for the future if we continue to develop a coordinated system that includes rail, highways, toll roads, and port facilities. He said that Houston has the potential to become the Global Port for the whole United States.
Fred Caldwell spoke on the strong commercial real estate market in Houston and the Greenspoint area. He indicated that nationally, the Texas area is considered desirable by corportaions that are relocating, due to a “pro business” climate, and a high quality of lifestyle.
Sue Payne, of ExxonMobil, spoke about energy need in the future, and how oil companies are developing plans to meet the needs, beyond current methods.