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  • By Bruce Lloyd

Bad news, good news about Guam's economy in new report

University of Guam economists look at 2018 past and 2019 to come and find a mixed future

Looking for a rip-roaring 2019 Guam economy which will make us all rich and happy? Take a look at the past year and projections of the year 2019 for a more realistic view. At the University of Guam, Dr. Maria Claret M. Ruane, a tenured economics professor and her colleagues, have been looking at the immediate past and trends for next year, finding the final numbers for 2018 will be basically static or somewhat down. "[We] expect the 2018 data once released in Summer 2019 will show Guam's economy in 2018 to have experienced a zero to slightly negative (-0.5 percent) growth compared to 2017," Ruane said.

And 2019? "Our most optimistic forecast for Guam's economy in 2019 is the same as for 2018, zero to slightly negative," according to Ruane.

But the professor, who styles herself an optimist, says "a zero to slightly negative" economy isn't necessarily bad news. She said in the face of this, Guam consumers can make things better for the local economy, regardless of what happens nationally. And economists are widely projecting what they view as an overdue U.S. recession.

"Buy local," she urges, particularly for many agricultural products that are now imported, but could and often have been grown on the island in the past.

"There's a good chance that Guam's economic growth will experience a 1 percent decline compared to the previous year, unless the combined consumer and business spending increases. I say that because tourism, if you're following my forecasting, tourism spending will be down, GovGuam spending will be down. If you look at the contribution of these sectors to our overall economy, they may cancel each other out. So what's the silver lining? Where would growth come from? The local economy. Local consumers."

"Tourism is not completely within our control. The federal government, military development is not completely within our control. Guess what, the local economy is. So this conclusion brings the focus back to the local economy and local customers, not fed and military, though we do want to take care of those segments of our economy as well and the importance of creating an environment in Guam that would build confidence and motivation for our local folks to fully participate in our economy."

Dr. Ruane said the year is just starting. "Let's make it happen. Please prove me wrong! I don't want to see a negative 1 percent growth."


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