I’m looking forward to the excitement of the coming year. From global happenings to local challenges—and a presidential election year—there’s a lot to keep an eye on in 2016.
Summer Olympics in Rio
The spirit of the Olympic flame burns bright in Utah, and we look forward to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer. It’s bound to be a remarkable international celebration of sport as images of Copacabana Beach and the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado are beamed around the world. Unfortunately, the Brazilian economy is suffering from its worst recession in over three decades and many wonder whether the country will pull off a successful Games.
I’m optimistic, in part because of the way people rally before the Olympics. We saw that in Salt Lake City, and while Rio will be different, Brazil will bring its own kind of energy to the Olympic movement. One of the more interesting things to watch will be the partnership between Airbnb and the Rio 2015 Organizing Committee. An estimated 380,000 foreign visitors will travel to Rio for the Games and Airbnb will offer around 20,000 home-sharing listings. The sharing economy will be tested this summer in new and exciting ways.
Salt Lake City Takes Flight to London, Heathrow
An international development of more local relevance will be the commencement of Delta’s nonstop service May 1 from Salt Lake City International Airport to London Heathrow Airport. Salt Lakers have long hoped for this connection because of London’s significant draw for business and leisure travel.
Even more important is what it says about Salt Lake City’s progression as an international city. Salt Lake is located in the interior American West and lacks the size and presence of many world cities. In actuality, Salt Lake City and Utah offer an internationally engaged population that speaks many different languages. Our economic connections in terms of global trade are also impressive. Delta already offers nonstop service from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam (seasonal) and Paris. London now joins the fun.
As the U.S. economy enters its seventh year of expansion, expect the chatter about the likelihood of another recession to increase. The current expansion is 78 months old. Many point to the 58-month average for all recessions since 1945 and say the U.S. economy is overdue for a correction.
Not so fast. The national economy is currently adding about 20,000 jobs a month. Many expect the U.S. economy to reach full employment by mid-year. Expansions are getting longer and longer for structural reasons: the growth of the more stable service economy, better inventory management because of technological improvements and improved macroeconomic policy understanding. In my view, the U.S. economy still has room to run. I would make business decisions in the new year carefully, but optimistically, especially in Utah.