HOW WILL NATIONAL ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN AND
UH ECONOMIST BARTON SMITH EXAMINES THE ISSUES AT UPCOMING SYMPOSIUM
After last year’s stellar economic performance, can Houston
maintain that same pace, even as the U.S. housing market correction
drags the national economy down?
Barton Smith, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting
at the University of Houston, will consider that question in his
symposium Houston’s Twin Booms: Energy & Housing –
Will They Continue for Another Year? at the Hyatt Regency Hotel,
1200 Louisiana, Tuesday, May 8. The event is sold out.
“Today, everyone seems to recognize the seriousness of the
subprime lending debacle that we warned about last year,”
Smith says, “but there remains a lack of consensus regarding
the duration of this housing market correction.” Smith argues
that the problems within the nation’s housing market are far
from over. At the symposium, he will provide data indicating the
national housing market as a whole suffers from three maladies:
excessive prices, overbuilding and foreclosures, though Houston’s
home market is only really troubled by the high number of foreclosures
that stem largely out of subprime lending in the past. “Houston
prices,” he says, “remain far below the national average
and local housing affordability is far higher here than in most
other large urban areas.”
Smith will point out how important the boom in the region’s
upstream energy economy has been to the area’s overall economic
health and will examine whether that boom will continue to sustain
Houston this year, despite the worsening national economic slowdown.
His slide presentation will also remind Houstonians that energy
booms typically don’t last more than a few years and that
without help from non-energy growth (which will be negatively affected
by the national slowdown) the burden of single-handedly keeping
the Houston boom alive may be more than the energy economy will
be able to deliver during the next 12 months.
Other topics to be covered include the boom in the suburbs and
the surprising strength in commercial real estate. Smith believes
most commercial real estate markets in Houston look relatively healthy.
However, the developers of apartment complexes failed to heed last
year’s warning not to be fooled by the market’s temporary
fix from Katrina/Rita evacuees. “At the current rate of new
building, we are likely to be swamped again with too many unfilled
apartment units. The only hope for this market is that the reduction
in subprime lending will reduce the flow of households from the
rental market to the owner market,” he says.
Prior to his presentation, Smith will be available for media interviews
from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.
||Houston’s Twin Booms:
Energy & Housing – Will They Continue for Another
||Barton Smith, UH professor of economics
and director of the UH Institute for Regional Forecasting
||Tuesday, May 8
Media availability: 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.
Luncheon: 11:45 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
Presentation: 12:20 to 1:30 p.m.
||Imperial Ballroom, Hyatt Regency
Hotel Downtown, 1200 Louisiana
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