Spring 2019 Symposium

Thursday, May 2, 2019
"Houston's Economy Returned to Basics in 2018,
But How Solid Are the Fundamentals Now?"
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 2, 2019

Registration/Name Badge
pickup: 11 a.m., third floor outside the Imperial Ballroom.

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

Online registration is closed; however, seats will be available for purchase at the door for $140/seat.

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.).

Once the job count is finalized, Houston probably added 60-70,000 jobs in 2018, or an increase of about two percent. This would be typical of local economic performance since 1990. But averages can be deceptive, and 2018 was marked by a series of events that saw Houston repeatedly surge forward, only to fall back into slower growth.

This on-again, off-again pattern was all about oil prices. OPEC returned to oil markets in late 2016, promising that the cartel would do anything necessary to raise 2017 oil prices. While oil prices and the local economy surged in response, so did American oil production. Surging U.S. fracking was largely to blame for oil prices falling back to $45 per barrel by mid-2017. OPEC then returned with Russia and other non-OPEC producers, and oil prices and the Houston economy again surged until the fall of 2018. Then the Iran sanctions collapsed and fracking continued growing, leading to another fall in oil prices and a slower Houston economy.

In 2019, some observers claim that OPEC is looking for a third approach. Having failed to crush U.S. fracking with low prices, and unable to sustain high prices, it has settled on keeping prices in a low to moderate range. The goal simply would be to slow the growth of U.S. fracking, perhaps the only option left to them.

Houston avoided recession in 2015-17 thanks to a period of solid U.S. economic expansion. It is widely expected that by July the U.S. economy will have entered the longest economic expansion in its history. But more concerns are raised each day about Fed policy and higher interest rates, an on-going trade war, slower global growth, and a toxic political environment. Since a national or global recession almost always drags down oil prices, U.S. recession could imply a double setback to local economic conditions.

Last fall, our outlook for Houston was for sustained moderate growth, and our Spring Symposium will focus on emerging risks to this future. How might Houston react to lower oil prices or recession in the global economy — or even to both at once?

The fair market value of an individual seat is $75 and the fair market value of a table of 10 seats is $750.


Hyatt Regency Hotel Houston Texas