UCSB Economic Forecast Project describes winter outlook for local and U.S. economy
The UCSB Economic Forecast Project held its winter meeting in Santa Barbara on February 24, featuring guest speaker Christopher Waller from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
“Let me comment on what I think is on everybody’s minds today, Russia’s attack on Ukraine," Waller said. "Obviously, there are people in harm's way and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. It is far too early to judge how this conflict will affect the world and world economy."
Waller said that he expects the US economy to continue to grow in the coming year.
“I expect the economy to continue expanding at a healthy rate this year, slower than the rate in 2021, but still on a solid pace that will keep employment growing stronger,” he said.
He listed elevated inflation as his main concern, and said it’s time for the Federal Reserve to act.
“Inflation is too high and I think concerted action is needed to rein it in,” Waller said.
Peter Rupert, director of the UCSB Economic Forecast Project gave a brief overview of the local Central Coast economy, saying retail is rebounding while other sectors are lagging behind.
“Basically, we’re almost back in terms of our retail employment to where we were right before the pandemic. On the other hand, leisure and hospitality is not so good,” he said.
Rupert said housing prices have skyrocketed in the region, at a rate that is likely not sustainable.
He then turned his attention to rent control which is currently being explored by Santa Barbara as a way to manage unaffordable housing.
Rupert said, as an economist, he is not in favor of rent control and cited multiple examples of where it has failed. He recommends that other options for rental assistance be considered instead.
Some Santa Barbara City Councilmembers, however, support the idea of rent control and recently asked for a study of how such a program could work in the city.
You can find more information about the economic outlook presented at the meeting, by going to efp.ucsb.edu.