Economist Ray Perryman sums up the world at leadership luncheon

🕐 4 min read

By John Fletcher

Renowned economist Dr. Ray Perryman entertained and informed a crowd of 302 public officials, educators, and leaders from business, community, and nonprofits at the Northeast Leadership Forum Award Luncheon at the Marriott Hotel in Westlake on Friday.

Perryman provided insightful comments on a variety of topics ranging from the pandemic and supply chain to inflation, the trade deficit, demographics, immigration, and energy. He provided perspective that allowed the audience to recognize that our nation is in better shape than we fear it is.

Among his perspectives:

  • Covid-19 provided the greatest overnight shock short of a war. The 2008 Great Recession saw Americans lose 9.4 million jobs over 14 months; the pandemic saw Americans lose 22 million in just two months.
  • 2020 initial claims for unemployment (translated: layoffs) were 10 times the number of weekly numbers of 2008.
  • Texas recovered its lost jobs within 19 months, with the Fort Worth-Dallas area recovering its lost jobs within 15 months; DFW and Austin accounted for all the returned job growth as the rest of Texas broke even.
  • The supply chain troubles have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because Ukraine and Russia grow 25% of the world’s wheat, which is used for food and cattle feed, therefore creating a shortage.
  • There are only three computer chip manufacturers in the world at this time, and one factory in South Korea slowed down due to a fire; the cold snap in Texas last year closed Texas ports temporarily, and this all took time to catch up.
  • Inflation occurs when “too much money is chasing too few goods,” Perryman said. World leaders have had to decide between bad choices and catastrophic choices. He reminded the audience that banks paid 5% interest on savings in the early 1980s and that amount is barely above 0% today.
  • Immigration is a controversial issue that can be resolved by simple math, according to Perryman. Our nation has 10 million job openings at a time when immigrants want to bring their talents to fill many of those positions. Ultimately, markets need to figure how to make it work, but the solution will require a well-thought-out political solution.
  • Energy is a controversial topic, but administration officials know that we need 30% more oil and gas. The only solution in a no-change requirement is to refuse to allow the world – including the United States – to grow.
  • Real estate may see reallocation of many office buildings to become a mixture of urban living and retail. (View the presentation here)
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Demographics will continue to play an even greater role in the economy, Perryman said, noting that 71% of jobs in the next few years will require some sort of certificate or advanced training. If there is no change in the education system, he said, Texans will make $6,000 less per year per person within the next 15 years.

Perryman said technology will continue to evolve based on changing dynamics. He pointed out that smart elevators now dispense a disinfecting spray when a button is pushed, and described how quickly passenger scanners were developed in response to 9/11. New needs drive new technological solutions.

The economist/commentator, whose columns are published regularly by the Business Press, said the United States is seeing major manufacturers launch plants for computer chips in order to protect its manufacturers from relying solely on China, South Korea, and Malaysia, with plants being located in Sherman and Taylor, both within 200 miles of Fort Worth-Dallas.

Perryman closed with a plea for cooperation among political leaders. He used the example of Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson collaborating with Republic Senate Minority Whip Everett Dirksen, and recalled how President Ronald Reagan famously worked across the aisle with House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

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“We have to find a way for politicians to work together with compromises rather than accept only their party agendas,” he said. “It’s rare that extremes get it right.”

The luncheon honored North Richland Hills City Councilman Tito Rodriguez with its Distinguished Leadership Award, which was presented by North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino.

The organization represented 28 educators from the area’s seven school districts – including each district’s superintendent, board chairman, primary teacher of the year, and secondary teacher of the year.

The Alan & Nancy Hamm Foundation announced its $22,000 grant that matches the $22,000 of the Northeast Leadership Forum Foundation, totaling $44,000 for graduating high school senior scholarships for students in Northeast Tarrant County public schools.

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In a surprise announcement, Ish Arabellos from Arca Continental Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages is providing a new Dell laptop to each of the 20-30 students who will receive one of the scholarships.

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