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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 8, 200112:00 PM EST

Good times ahead, economist says

by: Monica Chamness

by Monica Chamness

Staff Writer

It’s no secret that the economy has come under intense pressure since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Gregory Miller, vice president and chief economist for SunTrust Banks, addressed economic concerns Wednesday at the Omni during the 2001 First Coast Business Leaders’ luncheon.

He said there’s no question the economy is hurting, but it is on the tail end of the the downturn.

“The economy is struggling significantly, but we are already seeing seeds of what should be a pretty significant recovery,” said Miller.

Despite the uniqueness of the fiscal and monetary impacts of September, Miller pointed out that other historical events such as former President Dwight Eisenhower’s heart attack in 1952 and the anti-climatic Y2K scare produced similar results.

“The economic response to these events have been remarkably stable,” said Miller. “This economy shows remarkable resilience in the face of adversity.”

Miller said there is good news on the horizon in terms of the cost of living.

“For the next year or so inflation should be improving and improving dramatically,” said Miller. “The three and a half percent inflation of the year 2000 began this year down at about three percent and is now down to about 2.7 and change. Now, maybe next year some time we can go as low as one.”

Another helpful component pointing towards economic recovery includes a decline in energy prices, though this is balanced against rising unemployment rates.

All things considered, Miller predicts a lucrative Christmas season, a strong indicator of consumer confidence.

According to Miller, the public can expect an increased money supply in the next two years, a three-to-five percent gain in the stock market in the next month and more government bonds being issued.

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