Economist

Örn B. Bodvarsson speaks on the economy at Riverwoods Convention Center

A large economic expansion in the United States over the past several years has many asking the question: Is the party about to end?

Örn B. Bodvarsson, economics professor and dean of the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business at Westminster College, thinks it won’t be crashed anytime soon.

On Thursday, Bodvarsson presented “informal prognostications” on the economic future of Utah and the United States at the Bank of Utah’s Annual Economic Forecast Event at the Riverwoods Convention Center. It was the first event in a series of four to take place this month.

Though the economy is decelerating, Bodvarsson said, it’s not careening toward a brick wall. Bodvarsson said the current economic expansion is the longest that has been measured in the United States — 128 months. It’s an expansion he said that can continue and has been mirrored across the globe.

“There are very, very few parts of the globe that have not been growing,” Bodvarsson said.

In an interview with The Herald Journal after the event, Bodvarsson said economies around the world are more interdependent than ever before. The monetary policies of nations are more in line with one another, there are fewer trade barriers, and technology has made communication easier than it’s ever been, Bodvarsson said.

“It also means, that if one part of the world sneezes,” Bodvarsson said, “that we will definitely feel it much more than before.”

Similarly, Utah’s economy is interdependent with the nation’s. A main point from Bodvarsson’s presentation is that Utah’s economy isn’t unique or recession-proof.

“Our economic performance mirrors the nation’s economic performance much more than we think,” Bodvarsson said.

Bodvarsson said there is a tendency among Utah residents and media outlets to view the bustling Salt Lake City area, for instance, as immune to an economic downturn, or at the very least the residents won’t feel another recession as severely as the rest of the country.

“If the U.S. economy goes into recession, we will too,” Bodvarsson said. “And if there is stimulus to the U.S. economy, we’ll feel it on the upside.”

Bodvarsson said in-migration to Utah is a boon to the state’s economy. Since there are more people moving to Utah than leaving and the population is generally younger, the demographics of the Utah economy are positive, according to Bodvarsson.

“That really bodes well for the state’s economic future,” Bodvarsson said, despite the downsides of having more people in a rural state.

Bodvarsson said he was invited by the Bank of Utah to present at the series, providing an opportunity to engage with communities in Utah — part of his role as a dean, he said, is community outreach. He moved to Utah 18 months ago after four years at California State University in Sacramento — a move he seems to be happy with.

“I love it,” Bodvarsson said.

Bodvarsson’s next presentation is scheduled for Feb. 19 at The Monarch in Ogden. For more information visit call (801)409-5172 or visit www.bankofutah.com/events.

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