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Robert Trigaux

More viewpoints from veteran analysts MacManus, Snaith and Polito on economy, Florida's future



Wake up and good morning. Some good insights about the economy and Florida's future were volunteered by three veteran observers of the Sunshine State at a Wednesday morning outlook breakfast sponsored in Tampa by SunTrust Bank. USF political scientist Susan MacManus, UCF economist Sean Snaith and Metrostudy regional housing guru Tony Polito all offered some sharp comments. Ten of those points of view are captured in my St. Petersburg Times column here.

But let me touch on one more thing each of the observers said:

susanmacmanususf.jpgMacManus: Since she spoke the morning after President Obama's State of the Union address, she questioned the political sense in portraying China as essentially ahead of the United States and a country the United States needs to catch. The professor is right -- as a political move by a president to abdicate the United States to a No. 2 to China can be risky. But check out today's Time magazine "Curious Capitalist" blog posting on why we need to wake up to Asian competition. Here's a snippet:

Living out here in Asia, it's only too easy to see how quickly the East is catching up to, and in some cases, even surpassing the United States. The airport in Beijing is more efficient than JFK. I get dropped from mobile phone calls more readily in New Jersey than in Jakarta. Students in Seoul walk home with backpacks of books at 10pm, not 3pm. Asia is fully aware it needs to compete with America; sometimes I'm not sure that America realizes it has to compete with Asia. There's too much national babble about airport screening and Jersey Shore and not enough about what the country must do to thrive in a world with a rising China and India.

tonypolitometrostudy.jpgPolito: Nobody knows more about the broader Tampa bay housing market than Tony. So when he says that the housing market in Sarasota is picking up dramatically and that the Tampa Bay market tends to follow Sarasota by 12-18 months or so, listen up because that's good news. Why is Sarasota rebounding? Richer people. Homes bought with cash. And far fewer hassles with qualifying for mortgages, Polito says. Consider this Sarasota Herald Tribune headline today: Foreclosures down in Sarasota-Bradenton market. And then this one in the St. Petersburg TimesOf hardest-hit metros, Tampa Bay one of three where foreclosures rose in 2010.

seansnaithucf.jpgSnaith: Okay, there are two comments he made worth repeating here. First, he's worried about the threat of inflation snapping back quickly, especially when he looks at the pace of rising food and gasoline prices, and China's own inflationary pressures spreading. And second -- and Snaith rolled his eyes here -- he's obviously tired of hearing the Washington macho talk of cutting the deficit by ending earmarks and other paltry expenses. Freezing the discretionary portion of the federal budget is miniscule, Snaith said. Finding ways to trim entitlement programs are what deficit control will be all about. Check out NPR's take on the Congressional Budget Office's updated deficit forecast -- $1.5 trillion in 2011.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:57am]


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