Jerry Epperson -- Casual Living, February 9, 2012
I think we all need to recognize that we live in a new world, and to those smart enough to embrace it, the opportunities will exceed any we have had before.
America is facing a post recession environment that is very likely to have some upside surprises. At the very least, our corporations have $2 trillion in cash, four times the norm, ready to invest and hire. Our banks have $3 trillion ready and needing to be lent to borrowers - the most ever, by far.
There are 20 million Americans that would like to rejoin the workforce and earn a wage beyond the unemployment checks and welfare they have subsisted on for too long.
Another 40 million Americans have been worried about their jobs, concerned about either their own position or the health of their employer. Eighty-two percent of American households have made major changes in their lifestyles because of the recession, usually reducing spending, cutting back on luxuries, repaying debt, making do with less and deferring purchases.
Except for the newly famous "one percent," most American households have gone years without pay increases and most have seen benefits reduced. Many have seen savings and retirement assets decline as well, and that does not include the declining value of their homes.
Technically, the recession ended 30 months ago, but it hasn't felt like it, has it?
America has created a new baseline for future growth and 2012 is the first year of the post-recession economy.
Disagree? Home prices have bottomed, home construction is recovering, banks are lending, the stock market is reasonably healthy, job creation has resumed, GDP growth in the last quarter of 2011 was the best of the year and even domestic manufacturing is rising.
Are things great? Of course not, but almost everything is better than it has been.
But that is not all.
Instead of a consumer economy based almost entirely on the 77 million "Baby Boomers" now 48-66, both Generation X (47 million, 34-47) and the Millenials (72 million, 15-33) are emerging as new economic forces. Women are earning 60% of the college degrees, Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group, Asians are the wealthiest and grandparents are now the big spenders on the 4 million newborns each year.
These market segments offer endless new opportunities, as do the various regions of the country. Those hardest-hit in the recession - Florida, Michigan, California, Nevada and Arizona - will have the most obvious recoveries.
Plus, America's growth is focused on the home. Always where we went for rest, food, family and safety, the home is now where we work, entertain and are entertained, shop, exercise, study and communicate. Gaming is bringing a new recreational opportunity, and Skype allows you to date and visit as well.
We have seen the development of the "outdoor room" over the last decade, but this is the beginning of the personalized "home park" where you can develop your own recreational opportunities. The next theme park you visit may be in your own backyard. Coming soon? The home resort.
The recession is so yesterday. Focus on the opportunities of the future.
Watch for me in Sarasota, Fla., at the inaugural Casual Living Conference! I will be the fat bald guy on a scooter.
Jerry Epperson Managing Director