CBEI Central Wisconsin Fall 2020 Report

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CBEI Report

Interesting (and Exciting) Times

The UW-Stevens Point Center for Business and Economic Insight staff is very excited about this digital version of our fall report!

CBEI Central Wisconsin Fall 2020 Report

Chief Analyst Kevin Bahr addresses the significant economic challenges America faces in 2021 during a time of extreme social and political divisiveness, focusing on the continued effects of COVID-19 and the rapid growth in budget deficits and debt. Kevin will be exploring other economic challenges in his blog post. The Economic Indicators Report reveals the dramatic and rather unusual effects of COVID-19 on the national, state and regional economies.

School of Business and Economics faculty Nik Butz and Reed Stratton, with the assistance of SBE students Abby Schmidt and Emily Gruber, present their research on the impact of grit on employee turnover for our Special Report. Here, you can find the slides from their presentation at the December 11 CBEI webinar meeting. This issue’s Insight Spotlight features Prof. Kurt Pflughoeft, director of the Center for Data Analytics, illustrating the tremendous value of data analytics in contributing to business success. In Inner View, CBEI Senior Research Assistant Emma Fisher talks with local entrepreneurs Jade Arnold and Zach Strenger about their business, Thousand Lumens Productions, which creates marketing videos for its clients.

Our next presentation in May 2021 will be hosted on Zoom and our next report (also in May) will also be distributed electronically. The CBEI staff looks forward to the day when we can resume our normal, face-to-face biannual breakfast meetings. Let’s hope that the wide distribution of a vaccine next year will allow us to do so in December 2021!

Kevin Bahr’s Answers to Attendee Questions

Kevin, with climate change being such a slow-moving problem, how do you see that impacting world economies?

Climate change could have a significant impact in multiple ways. First, weather has become more extreme, and that could impact a variety of industries from agriculture to insurance. Catastrophic weather events can impact communities, industries, and overall economic output of a given country – not to mention supply chains between countries. (It wasn’t weather related, but COVID demonstrated how supply chains could be interrupted between countries and affect certain consumer products.) Once again, government spending could be needed to get communities and industries rebuilt and economies back on track. Second, technology is extremely important. Technological advances that combat climate change could be beneficial for firms, which in turn benefit economies. The challenge for government is to make it financially attractive for firms to do the R&D that leads to the technological advances. Joint efforts between countries would be beneficial to combat a world problem.

If you expect the stock market to pick up after the vaccine, are there specific stocks you expect to grow faster/that you would suggest investing in right now?

Overall, the stock market has bounced back quite well in 2020. The stock market has an expectation (in my opinion) that the vaccine and its distribution will allow the economy to get back to some degree of normalcy in 2021. The S&P 500 (large companies) has increased approximately 12% year-to-date, after dropping 20% in the first quarter. Technology stocks have been huge, in part fueled by the COVID vaccine development. NASDAQ (technology stocks) – have an increase of approximately 35% year-to-date.

I don’t know about specific stocks, but certainly the travel and leisure industry (cruises, airlines, hotels) and select retail stocks have been more negatively impacted than other industries. They would hopefully bounce back if “normalcy” returns.