By John Ruffier, Chair of the Lowndes Senior Housing Practice Group
In case you are not one of the over 3,000 people attending the 2019 NIC Fall Conference in Chicago, we thought we’d share a few observations with you:
- Blue suits and brown shoes are in! Just from our causal observations of the crowd milling about on Wednesday, the new uniform of business for men in the senior housing industry is a blue suit with brown shoes. We must admit, we are guilty of wearing this exact same combination.
- There is lots of energy around the conference – people seem very energized and positive about where the industry sits and is heading. Everyone seems to have full schedules of meetings and full evenings of events to attend in order to spend social time with clients, business or loan sources and industry counterparts.
- Thursday’s morning keynote speaker, former Federal Reserve Bank Chair Dr. Janet Yellen, had some very interesting observations:
- While there are more troubling signs than she is comfortable with, ultimately, Dr. Yellen does not see a recession on the horizon. While she recognizes that the economy has slowed and growth has moderated, she feels that should be expected and welcomed. If job growth and hiring continued at such high rates, inflation was likely to be pushed up to unacceptable levels. Consumer spending makes up 2/3 of the market and unlike with the last recession, increases there have been the result of wage growth versus being financed by household credit and debt.
- She sees 2% economic growth as a realistic and sustainable growth rate for the economy.
- Dr. Yellen does not believe that the current “inverted yield curve” suggests a recession this time. For the non-economists, the inverted yield curve is where long-term bond rates are lower than short-term bond rates, suggesting a lack of confidence in the long-term economy. In the past, the occurrence of an inverted yield curve has often preceded a recession. Dr. Yellen distinguishes the current inverted yield curve from past instances, as she does not believe it is the result of tight monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, which is often the case. Further, Dr. Yellen believes that if the inverted yield curve was signaling investor concerns with the long-term economy and a future recession, she would expect to see more of a widening in corporate bond spreads as well, which has not happened to date.