Economic growth next year will be slow, but even if Washington doesn't come to an agreement on fiscal policy by the end of December, the U.S. won't dip into a recession in 2013, according to economist Andrew Duguay in the recent MDM Webcast, 2013 Economic Outlook.
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Duguay forecast 3 percent growth in 2013, followed by a 2.9 percent contraction in 2014 and growth in 2015 and 2016. He encouraged webcast attendees to make decisions as if it were a growth year, rather than acting as if the U.S. were in a recession. Distributors who can overcome the paralysis of uncertainty and target the right areas can still find opportunity in the coming year.
While federal construction spending has plummeted, for example, nonresidential industrial construction is up 21 percent year-over-year on a quarterly basis, and Duguay says it's a great time to be in residential, which has seen 35 percent year-over-year growth. While wholesale trade of durable goods has seen slower growth, due in part to restrained B-to-B spending, nondurables are enjoying stronger growth.
Some segments are largely unaffected or even bolstered by downturns, with one example being the energy space. The U.S. is rich in shale oil and gas production, and recent studies suggest that by 2020 the U.S. will be producing more oil and natural gas liquids than any other country.
As such, Duguay predicts growing opportunities for those who can make inroads, "for anyone from a welder on a gas rig, to transportation companies, to those who create the infrastructure to move new oil and gas to market."