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If you go
What: 2014 Economic Outlook lecture
Who: William Strauss, senior economist and economic adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Magee-O’Connor Theater, Andorfer Commons at Indiana Tech, 1600 E. Washington Blvd., Fort Wayne
Admission: Free and open to the public
For more information: Contact Janet Schutte at 422-5561, ext. 2250

Chicago economist to give outlook lecture at Indiana Tech


William Strauss isn’t impressed by last year’s 2.5 percent growth in gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S.

Then again, the economist said, it could be worse.

“Compared with many parts of the world, we’re actually doing quite well,” he said Monday during a phone interview.

Strauss is a senior economist and economic adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He’ll be in Fort Wayne this week on the Indiana Tech campus to share his economic forecast for the coming year.

When economies in Asia, Europe and South America slump, U.S. companies struggle, too, he said. Overseas businesses and consumers provide a market for American exports.

“When they suffer, we suffer,” he said.

In terms of economic prosperity, the more widespread the better, Strauss said. Growth in one country doesn’t have to be offset by decline somewhere else.

While we wait for a global rebound, we’ll have to endure lackluster performance at home.

“It’s a decent growth, but not impressive growth,” Strauss said of the U.S. economy. “We’re nowhere close to having an economy that’s operating at a more normal level.”

Joshua Long, an associate professor of economics at Indiana Tech, arranged Strauss’ visit. Long also invited him to Fort Wayne in 2012 and Strauss presented that year’s economic forecast at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast.

Strauss analyzes the Midwest economy and the manufacturing sector, producing the monthly Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index. The next one will be released April 28.

“He’s probably the perfect match in terms of his expertise (in manufacturing) and the northeast Indiana economy,” Long said.

The manufacturing sector has shown impressive resilience, recovering about 85 percent of the output lost in the recession, Strauss said.

But the growth has been fueled by increases in productivity driven by computer numerical controlled – or CNC – machines. The manufacturing industry has added only 27 percent of the jobs it slashed during that period.

The two-year U.S. forecast calls for about 3 percent annual GDP growth, Strauss said.

“It’s going to be better, but not substantially better,” he said. In the short term, Strauss will be keeping an eye on world events.

“Should we be concerned about what’s happening in Ukraine? Of course,” he said. “Ultimately, it could affect consumer confidence and spending here.”