I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many friends, schoolmates, and business associates about increasing optimism over economic prospects of 2015. Those who follow cyclical trends in the economy will agree that certain indicators provide new enthusiasm for growth this year.
Real estate. Without quoting an abundance of data on new housing starts or space rentals in commercial property, 2015 looks as though its going to be a good year for real estate. This will extend from new housing starts, to purchasing and refurbishing of existing units. Commercial real estate should experience a significant upturn with increased profits and expansion in mid cap to large corporations.
Armed with that information, its easy to extrapolate that trades industries will have a comeback this year. With more building, more tradesmen will become involved with solid, long-standing, work. This is in opposition to a few years where building tradesmen concentrated on refurbishment of existing units. This trend will continue, with more entrepreneurs entering the market as the buyer pool expands.
Building is good for all peripheral industries and, especially interesting to me, are the entrepreneurs eyeing retail franchises in mid level markets. I have observed this happening in my second home of Spring Hill where chain stores seem to have made a decision to gambol on 2015. With investment in major highway frontage from Bob Evans, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and others, some fringe entrepreneurs are eyeing franchises that complement local anchor retail outlets. While I remain on the fence on retail, there is definitely a trend worth mentioning happening here and other similar places.
Does the south make more sense? Most of us are aware of the word of comeback in Detroit. MI. Detroit may follow the path of many former manufacturing centers of the north and reinvent itself into a thriving city. If that’s the case, and we can forecast the upward trend for more than seven years, there may be great value in looking at opportunities in Detroit and other major northern cities. Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, have already proven to be solid investments for commercial developers. My question is, will this extend to secondary markets? In which case looking at cities like Reading, PA, Dayton, OH, and Kalamazoo, MI may turn to gold for opportunistic entrepreneurs.
However, I remain skeptical. A brief trip through western Georgia into Alabama and northern Florida convinced me that areas, like these, are where major companies will invest in the United States. A number of factors including: relatively inexpensive land, availability of ready raw building materials, and a low cost labor market, lead me to this conclusion. Expansion in the north still means grappling with labor unions. I don’t see many foreign companies looking to invest here as being willing to deal with that factor.
Cautious lending may be replaced by a new spirit of expansion with the banking industry this year. Some of my banking friends, demonized over the past six years, are brushing themselves off and talking about prospective lending in several quarters. Re-tooling of existing plants is now on many industry’s plans. Also, infrastructure upgrades can be expected in healthcare, aircraft, and power industries this year.
Continuing drops in gas prices may fuel additional investments into the peripheral energy industries. These include fracking, coal mining, and exploring new sources for natural gas. Investors are mixed on playing in the futures market. Many agree that what goes down must come up. However, almost all disagree on how to play that market. Some are convinced that a heavy stock investment in oil producing companies is the right play this year. Others see direct investment in new opportunities as the correct method to attack this rich market. I don’t see this going back to the wildcatting days in Texas and Oklahoma, but it certainly is an area of expansion that will have a major influence on the economy this year.
Low gas prices will be the catalyst for other areas of investment. Consider tourism as a major play this summer if gas prices remain at current levels. The travel industry should benefit greatly from reduced travel costs as airlines respond to the dropping fuel prices. The same should be considered for commercial shipping and moving industries. Those businesses who have held off on major moves may look at this year as full of opportunity. As fuel prices plummet, more commercial ordering may take place to take advantage of lower shipping costs.
All in, 2015 looks like a year of great opportunity. Those skeptics who are waiting to see how the big money movers are going to capitalize may miss a real opportunity for the small and mid level investor to move up their portfolio. Good luck to all those who are bullish this year and have a great ride in 2015!