Business Monday

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? iStock

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


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.


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


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)


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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



▪ CEOs: Amazon’s strong look at Miami for HQ2 made the region look hard at itself

Biggest influence on CEOs’ careers? Most say it was a parent

▪ Jobs available? CEOs look at their companies

▪ CEOs keep an eye on Miami’s cost of living

The key to retaining employees? Start with good pay and benefits

▪ Live-work-play? More employees opt to live closer to workplaces

Some CEOs say they’ve raised wages this year

▪ Here are some issues CEOs hope lawmakers keep top-of-mind this election year

CEOs offer varying opinions on higher education

▪ Local firms are doing their part to be more eco-friendly

▪ CEOs are all smiles thanks to local economic boom

Is work-life balance a myth? CEOs share their thoughts

▪ CEOs help employees stsruggling with long commutes

▪ Despite airline woes, CEOs are not changing traveling habits

▪ CEOs have diverse opinions on Trump’s tariffs and other actions

▪ CEOs feel pressure to keep wages competitive

▪ South Florida CEOs say that Miami can sustain David Beckham’s soccer team

▪ CEOs hope common-sense control on assault rifles happens soon

▪ Will Amazon open HQ2 in Miami? Maybe, maybe not, but city’s profile rises, CEOs say

▪ We have much to learn about public transit from other cities, CEOs say

CEOs: Cuban coffee, flexibility and beach picnics help employees balance job demands

CEOs discuss how to deal with extreme views in the workplace

▪ Extra guards, added security measures protect staff and clients

▪ As automation advances, CEOs say humans are still needed

▪ Holiday parties celebrate employees and the year’s successes

These CEOs have zero tolerance for sexual harassment

Will automation change your job? Yes — and no, CEOs say

▪ How CEOs address hostility in the workplace

▪ Good storm planning can stave off disruptions, CEOs find

Storms highlighted serious local issues, CEOs say

▪ Planning, preparation are keys to disaster recovery, CEOs say

▪ CEOs say students who improve certain skills are better prepared for future jobs

▪ Uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act on the minds of CEOs

▪ In a year of challenges, CEOs took risks, learned and grew

▪ CEOs believe community should be involved in making public schools better

▪ Best bosses we ever had inspired, challenged and cared, say South Florida CEOs

▪ South Florida CEOs try to evaluate the nation’s top CEO: President Trump

▪ CEOs’ advice to college students: Network! Internships! Research!

▪ Affordable housing a cause of concern for CEOs

▪ Communication, cool heads key to avoiding public relations nightmares

▪ Meet the new Miami Herald CEO Roundtable

▪ Ahh, the first job. CEOs learned valuable lessons on the bottom rung

▪ It’s getting harder for employees and CEOs to disconnect while on vacation

▪ Florida’s legislators must act on economy and education, CEOs say

Most CEOs provide paid internships, and everyone benefits

Local firms rich in generational immigrants, CEO say, but deportation efforts worry some

Long hours at the office? CEOs say how they avoid burnout

CEOs prefer balance when dealing with a defiant employee

The most important issue facing South Florida this year? CEOs say it’s traffic

Have you been to Cuba? CEOs discuss business and travel opportunities on the island

CEOs discuss their resolutions for the New Year

CEOs: Trump, ugly politics among the biggest surprises of 2016

CEOs’ top request for Trump’s first 100 days: ‘Unity’

CEOs won’t tolerate ugly comments in the workplace

CEOs assess South Florida’s economy for 2017

Did Obamacare hurt your business? South Florida CEOs respond