Spring 2018 Symposium

Thursday, May 17, 2018
"Houston's Economic Outlook Caught Between Improving Oil Markets and Growing Risks to U.S. Growth"
Featuring: Robert W. Gilmer, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Regional Forecasting
Event Details

Hyatt Regency Hotel (Imperial Ballroom), 1200 Louisiana, Houston, Texas 77002 (Map)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Registration/Name Badge
pickup: 11 a.m.

Luncheon & Presentation:
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Online registration is closed; however, limited seating is available at the event. Please go to the special assistance table in the lobby of the hotel. At event seating is $140/per seat.

If registered, please pick up your name badge in the lobby of the hotel.

We ask that everyone be in their seat by 11:30 a.m. in order for lunch to be served. The program should conclude at approximately 1:30 p.m.

The hotel offers valet parking and self-parking in the Regency Garage or in the 1400 Louisiana St. parking garage (entrance to garage is off Bell St.).

Last year was a busy time for Houston, with a late 2016 OPEC accord that briefly generated great excitement about oil prices; the Super Bowl, Hurricane Harvey, and the World Series meant activity across a variety of sectors; and after their 2016 agreement failed, OPEC returned last November with another go at raising oil prices. Amid all this, Houston turned a corner in 2017, returning to moderate job growth for the first time in two years. Our Spring 2018 Economic Symposium will review Houston’s economic status as we approach mid-2018 and look forward through year-end.

The recent November OPEC agreement – helped by pipeline problems in the North Sea and political risk in key countries – pushed oil prices as high as $65 per barrel early in 2018. The question is whether these prices can really be sustained. After all, OPEC’s 2014 commitment to crush American fracking abjectly failed, with U.S. oil production now at all-time high levels. OPEC’s return to supporting world oil prices in 2017 also flopped, with price falling to $45/b by May. As we move through 2018, oil prices remain caught between improving global demand and still-surging U.S. oil production. We need to hold onto higher prices to see oil jobs return to Houston.

The U.S. economy is the stalwart Houston could rely on in recent years. While oil lagged, moderate but steady U.S. expansion kept Houston out of recession. With the national economy healed from the financial crisis, and the Federal Reserve slowly removing monetary accommodation, Congress recently delivered tax cuts and more spending on infrastructure, the military, and domestic programs. This not-so-timely fiscal stimulus has generated fear of inflation and rising interest rates, created financial volatility, and even brought concerns about national recession. Is this critical support for Houston’s economy suddenly put at risk?

The Spring Symposium will review recent developments in oil markets and the U.S. economy, weigh what it all means for Houston, and project them forward. We will survey various sectors affected by Hurricane Harvey, especially residential and commercial real estate, and carefully assess their near-term future as well.