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Recession ahead? CEOs divided on whether they see signs of one

In late November, CEOs were asked: Economists are forecasting a recession that is still some time off. Are you already seeing any signs, and if so, what do they look like?
In late November, CEOs were asked: Economists are forecasting a recession that is still some time off. Are you already seeing any signs, and if so, what do they look like? .

Healthcare continues to grow as a major part of the economy. We have not been seeing any signs of a recession, which is why we continue to take steps to build our clinical programs. There is a great need to provide accessible specialty healthcare services for our community and the region.

Dr. Edward Abraham, executive vice president for Health Affairs of the University of Miami and CEO of UHealth - the UM Health System

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I see the warning signs in the real estate sector already — certain retailers going dark; slowdown in purchasing will cause more employee layoffs in the future. The cost of living plus inflation has increased but [am] wondering if it will sustain or roll back. Fed interest rate increases are not helping.

Jim Angleton, CEO for Aegis FinServ Corp.

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Historically, recessions have a delayed impact on healthcare providers because of access to healthcare benefits post-layoff through COBRA. We are not seeing any early signs of a recession. Cleveland Clinic Florida maintains the highest acute-care occupancy rates in the region.

Wael Barsoum, M.D., CEO and president

of Cleveland Clinic Florida

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We do not see any signs of a recession in our business or industry. To the contrary, we are fortunate that we will have our seventh consecutive record in 2018 and are poised for an even better 2019. The recent volatility in the stock market and global events does raise concerns about our future economy. We have plans in place and are prepared to not only survive but thrive when a recession eventually comes.

Brett Beveridge, CEO and founder

of The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC)

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We are in the nonprofit space. Our businesses feel slowdown first as it shows up in reduced giving. We have not seen any signs of it yet.

Bill Diggs, president, The Mourning Family Foundation

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I definitely see some retreating of prices in the commercial real estate market, as many investors chasing yield overpaid for assets that are not supported by rental income. However, since the term “recession” has a specific definition — two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth — I am not prepared or qualified to say that those are signs of an impending recession.

Jessica Goldman Srebnick,

CEO of Goldman Properties and Goldman Global Arts

Luckily, South Florida has experienced steady economic growth for nearly a decade, and the metrics continue to be positive. Undoubtedly this streak will come to an end, but when the next economic downturn comes, it should not be as bad as the last one, because the fundamentals have changed – larger and more diverse investment base, greater liquidity and more equity, particularly in the real estate market.

Jorge Gonzalez, president and CEO, City National Bank

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We are concerned about retention and wage inflation, rising housing costs in some regions, and competition for hiring. In other regions, we are seeing a softening of the housing markets, continued high wage inflation that is likely unsustainable, and increased volatility in buying patterns in certain technology areas created by market disruption from accelerated digitation.

Louis Hernandez Jr., CEO of Black Dragon Capital

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At Ocean Bank we see a slowdown in loans and new business due to increased interest rates. The difference from earlier cycles is that banks are observing stricter guidelines on collateral, pre-purchase or pre-leasing and greater borrower equity in development projects.

Agostinho Alfonso Macedo, president and CEO

of Ocean Bank

I don’t see a major recession on the horizon (barring any unforeseen material external factors), but what I do see is an economic plateau with ebbs and flows. One key point to keep in mind is that our economy has experienced a major paradigm shift which has radically altered the economic markers historically used to predict the economic future. Economies are now global in scale, meaning many of the economic equations must be rewritten whereby new variables and constants are identified and defined before any definitive forecasts can be made. Hence, when things don’t make sense, I go back to the basics: Barriers to entry, Supply Side Economics and available cash on the sidelines ready to invest. Based upon these basics, I do not see a bad recession in the immediate future.

James “Jimmy” Tate, co-owner and president of TKA-Evolution Apparel and of Tate Capital, and co-founder of Tate Development Corp.

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One of the many signs of forecasting a recession is the rise in the unemployment rate. In the past year, we have seen unprecedented unemployment rates hit all-time lows and highs. Earlier in 2018, the unemployment rate rose to 4%, after dropping to an 18-year low of 3.8% in May. The number of people who were unemployed also grew by half a million. The fluctuation in unemployment is a sign consistent with an economy that is entering the late stages of the business cycle where businesses cease to expand, the GDP diminishes for two consecutive quarters, the rate of unemployment rises and housing prices decline.

Rashad D. Thomas, vice president of business connect and community outreach for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee

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I see a lot of confidence in the economy at this time and especially in foreign investors entering the south Florida market. So I do not see a recession anytime in the near future.

Manny Angelo Varas, president and CEO of MV Construction Group

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Today we see everyday people working hard, but still struggling to live the American dream of home ownership. More college graduates than ever are moving back home because they can’t afford to pay for apartment living and at the same time repay student loans with today’s living wages. If the push continues for a desperately needed $15 minimum wage, it will surely negatively affect smaller companies that will not be prepared and able to meet those standards.

Dorcas L. Wilcox, CEO of Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services

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No, we are not yet seeing signs of a recession. We’ve had a positive year in fundraising and membership growth; and anticipate an increase in the Girl Scout cookie program this year! However, in anticipation of a possible recession, we are taking measures to be prepared by focusing on growing our membership and increasing our financial reserves.

Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO of Girl Scouts Tropical Florida

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THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. RECENT QUESTIONS HAVE INCLUDED

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