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ECONOMIC FORTUNE-TELLING INDICATES SLOW GROWTH


ATA economist expects 2013 to be OK, 2014-15 to be better


BY STEVE BRAWNER Contributing Writer


Economic uncertainty and slowing fac-


tory orders will lead to slower growth this year, but pent-up demand should result in a more prosperous 2014 and 2015, accord- ing to Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Costello said businesses and consum-


ers remain wary even though the Great Recession has ended. They’re uncertain about the country’s economic future and don’t know what Congress will do next. Eu- rope remains shaky. Meanwhile, Hurricane Sandy hit the nation’s eastern seaboard at the same time the fiscal cliff battle hit Washington. “That uncertainty just holds back


businesses,” Costello said. “You don’t want to take any risks. You don’t want to go out there on a limb, hire more people and invest in more capital until there is less uncertainty.” Costello said the economy would have


been expected to “grow gangbusters” after the Great Recession ended. Unfortunately, growth has been sluggish. “There have been a lot of headwinds that have prevented the economy from reaching its potential,” he said. “We’ve been growing far below its potential.” However, pent-up demand hasn’t gone


away, Costello said. For example, consum- ers need to replace aging vehicles, and indeed they are doing so, as light vehicle sales have risen from a low of about 10 million units in 2009 to 14.4 million in 2012 and an expected 15.1 million in 2013. Among the most important economic


indicators is the housing market, which began heading south after reaching 2.3 mil- lion starts in 2006, bottomed out in 2009 and hasn’t improved much since. However,


 SPRING Q1 2013 TENNESSEE TRUCKING NEWS Illustration: iStockphoto.com


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