DEARBORN, Mich. — An economist, investor and industry expert may have competing focuses, but they all agree on one thing: the automotive aftermarket is growing and the future looks bright, although uncertainty and some challenges do loom.
|From left to right: Daron Gifford, Natalie Soroka, Bret Jordan and Nathan Shipley|
A panel of experts — moderated by Daron Gifford with Plante Moran — presented the three viewpoints of where our market is headed and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead during the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) Vision conference in Dearborn, Mich. on April 3.
In 2018, the U.S. economy was up by about 2.9 percent, driven by personal consumption, business investment and government expenditure, said Natalie Soroka, Senior International Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce.
Trade exports were up about 6 percent, but imports were also up, so that outpaced growth in exports. Therefore, the trade deficit did increase, but this was expected — as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increases with personal consumption and business spending, typically imports also increase, in line with people buying more, Soroka said.
The global economy as a whole also grew in 2018, with many major countries — Mexico, Canada, Europe, Japan, China and India — all growing together. But this upswing most likely will not be permanent.
Overall, Soroka said she expects GDP growth to slow down moving forward. “I am not talking about a global recession, but it is going to slow down,” she said.
Why? Some of it is cyclical. Also, interest rates are going up, which reduces spending. And trade is expected to slow in 2019-2020.
The overall verdict: “The economic outlook remains generally positive, but uncertainty and risks remain,” Soroka said.