Despite Economy’s Rumblings, Philadelphia Looking Up

Consider the next few months a window of opportunity. That was the message delivered by Joel Naroff, chief economist for TD Bank N.A. and president of Naroff Economic Advisors, speaking on the opening panel of CPN’s Hidden Opportunities conference in Phialdephia on Wednesday.While Naroff does not see the economy really recovering for five to as much as 10 years, he expects the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to take some steps very soon to “soak up all of that liquidity (they have taken on) as quickly as possible.” Specifically, he warned, interest rates are likely to move up rapidly within a few months. And while long-term rates will not rise as quickly because they are not as low, even those will have to move. At the same time, the flow of credit will be slow to ramp up, as investment banks learn to be commercial banks. As the country works through its difficulties, Philadelphia is in a relatively good position for growth, according to Naroff and other speakers on the panel, “Hidden Opportunities: What the Data Means for You.“ Lena Bourgeois, a vice president for demographic research firm Nielsen Claritas, pointed to area population growth that in the past nine years has outpaced that of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey overall and in a number of locales to have been well above the national average. Furthermore, area population growth is likely to remain at the same pace over the next five years. That growth is not so much people flocking to the city, Naroff said, but rather that outmigration has slowed, in part as Baby Boomers are choosing to age in place in urban areas rather than moving to more traditional retirement areas. And while perception tends to be that Philadelphia does not attract corporations, that isn’t really true, noted economist Stephen Mullin, senior vice president & principal for eConsult Corp. Rather, the number of companies moving out of the area has counterbalanced the number moving in. But that outmigration is also slowing, resulting in positive growth for the area.Watch for further reports on the data and forecasts on Philadelphia’s and the nation’s performance from the conference on cpnonline.com. Plus, click on CPN Radio for an interview with Terry Munoz of Nielsen Claritas on the Conference Series channel. And log on to CPN TV later this week for interviews with Joel Naroff on the economy and with Matthew McManus, chairman of Bluestone Real Estate Capital, on the capital markets and financing alternatives.