Watch and wait

The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, our nation’s economists pronounced last month. Well, tell that to the millions of long-term unemployed Americans or the owners of struggling businesses who wonder how they’ll be able to make next week’s payroll or reimburse their vendors.

And tell that to the senior living developer who can’t get credit to expand his or her facility or open a new one-especially frustrating when demographic forecasts point to skyrocketing demand for senior living product just around the corner. Or, tell that to the operator struggling to fill occupancies as anxious seniors delay moving into continuing care or assisted living communities while watching their primary asset-their homes-plummet in value.

“The economic recovery is intact but it’s very fragile,” observes Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics and a speaker at last September’s National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry conference, held in Chicago. “Businesses are nervous about the ongoing foreclosure crisis.”

Still, Zandi cautions against despair. He predicts that if we make it through the next 6-12 months, by 2012 we should see a healthy 5% growth in gross domestic product (GDP). Zandi cites several factors to support his forecast: The Federal Reserve will remain aggressive in keeping long-term interest rates low; large- and mid-size companies are highly profitable now, having greatly reduced their costs; and credit quality is improving. By 2012, he believes, “The spigot will open in a significant way.”

You can read more about the state of the economic recovery as it relates to the long-term care industry in the feature “Beaten but not broken” on page 42.

By the time you read this, the midterm elections will have come and gone and we’ll have a clearer idea of how Americans feel about our country’s leadership. Odds favor the Democrats going down in flames. Americans fed up or anxious over a stagnant economy, rising taxes, and a regulatory limbo are expected to make their voices heard in the voting booth (or with their absentee ballot). I hope you made your voice heard, too. I know I did.

Patricia Sheehan, Editor-in-Chief Long-Term Living 2010 November;59(11):8

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