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VOL. 128 | NO. 98 | Monday, May 20, 2013

National Economy Headlines Seminar

By Andy Meek

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The next installment of The Daily News’ ongoing seminar series will offer a comprehensive look at the state of the economy, with insight from a panel of thought leaders and a keynote from the chief economic strategist of Vining Sparks IBG LP.

Vining Sparks is a leading broker-dealer serving institutional investors, and its senior vice president and chief economic strategist Craig Dismuke will present the keynote address at The Daily News’ seminar June 6 on “Money and Markets: The State of the Economy.”

Dismuke advises portfolio managers that range from large foreign banks to small domestic financial institutions, and his work also includes studying economic trends and fixed income sector performance. He’s a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and he publishes daily, weekly and monthly articles for Vining Sparks in addition to other publications.

For his presentation at The Daily News seminar, he says he’ll be politically neutral and focused mostly on data and prescriptive suggestions. The discussion will range from his take on the housing sector – “it’s better now than it’s been in the last three years” – to when the time is right for the government to tighten its belt.

“I try to stay neutral and look at things that way,” Dismuke said. “I am biased toward free-market policies. But I do believe in having a social safety net. So I try to stay neutral and just say, ‘Here’s what the numbers are, and here’s what you have to do to fix the problems.’”

Joining him for that discussion will be a panel that consists of Mendelson Law Firm attorney David Mendelson and Waddell & Associates Inc. president, CEO and chief investment strategist David Waddell, who also is a columnist for The Daily News.

The seminar is presented by The Daily News and sponsored by Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP and Waddell & Associates Inc. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Auditorium, and a networking reception will follow the presentation.

Even Dismuke’s preview of his address runs the gamut of most every topic of interest to investors and anyone economically-minded at the moment: housing, taxes, monetary policy, government spending and entitlements, to name a few.

“I’m going to talk about where growth is,” he said. “I’ll give kind of a macro overview that says here’s where growth is, and that growth has been decent in the economy. It’s averaged 2.1 percent since the recession ended. But when you exclude government spending, the growth rate is actually higher. The reason the economy is slower is because we’ve been cutting government spending. And I’ll look at why government spending has been down, and also at demographic changes – how that’s going to affect government expenditures.

Regarding the recent efforts of the Federal Reserve, which remains in the midst of an effort to keep a lid on interest rates to incentivize the flow of money throughout the economy, there are a few things that concern Dismuke. One of them is the risk in the central bank having tied its actions for so long to a fixed point – namely, to the jobless rate.

Dismuke thinks the Fed is playing a dangerous game. As he sees it, the Fed could either risk losing its credibility if the central bank keeps rates lower for longer than promised, or the market’s reaction might get ahead of the Fed’s ability to control it as the market sees unemployment start to fall.

Dismuke also thinks, broadly speaking, the country would be well served by the federal government cutting spending and raising taxes in an effort to improve the economy.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather not be raising taxes,” he said. “However, the country hasn’t said it wants to shrink the government. And until they do, you’ve got to raise taxes.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 83 415 10,637
MORTGAGES 87 499 13,826
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 80 2,724
BUILDING PERMITS 0 915 25,222
BANKRUPTCIES 79 343 10,235
BUSINESS LICENSES 19 97 3,833
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 143 573 15,130
MARRIAGE LICENSES 23 106 3,273

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