, Salem, MA


January 8, 2014

A brightening outlook for 2014, local experts say


“This has all been aimed at stimulating the economy, and it’s working,” Lutts said. “And the stock market is letting you know it’s working.”

The Fed has announced it will trim the economic stimulus program starting this month. For the long term, there may be concerns about inflation, but the good news for the economy is “the madness in Washington has stopped,” Lutts said.

Lutts was referring to the recent two-year, bipartisan budget deal, which stands in contrast to the stalemate over health care that shut down the government in October. Lutts said he recently thanked Democratic Congressman John Tierney “for coming around and being more balanced” when it comes to budget matters.

Lutts said innovation is healthy on the North Shore, and one of the things the business community may be able to take advantage of is the notion that there is a substantial amount of venture capital money out there.

“If you have a good idea, investors are lining up to invest in you,” he said.

Caruso looks at the positives and negatives in the economy when thinking about 2014, and one of those positives is jobs. The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 7 percent, the lowest it’s been since November 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth has been slow, however.

“It’s not great,” Caruso said, “but jobs are moving in the right direction.”

Other positives are the gross domestic product, which grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent for the third quarter — greater than expected. And leading economic indicators and consumer confidence are pointing in the right direction, he said.

“Real estate is kicking in like it never has,” inflation is “virtually nonexistent,” and corporate earnings and balance sheets are the best they have been in years, Caruso said. The problem is that companies are still skittish and are not willing to make large investments or hire in great numbers, Caruso said.

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