President Clinton was the keynote speaker during the closing session at the 2009 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) conference. His focus during his speech was the American economy, with a few words on the state of health care, education and energy in the mix. But the big question was: is the recession over? His answer: “Yes. No. Maybe.”
If you are an economics professor, the answer is yes. Economists tend to determine the state of the economy using the textbook definition that says that two consecutive quarters of growth signal the end of a recession. If you are a business owner, the answer is no. People are still losing jobs and unemployment is still on the rise and home foreclosures are still increasing. The maybe comes into play, says Clinton, in that we can come out of a depression, but if people get spooked and stop spending, we’ll be right back into the recession. What could cause this? The price of oil going back to $100 per barrel. This may not be that far off as last week saw prices rise to $80 per barrel.
Clinton then went on to say, “We (America) has got to change how we create and exchange energy. Climate change is real.” He also expressed concern that if we lose the ability to feed the people when we need it most, we are going to have water wars and resource wars that make the middle east look tame. Clinton noted that the UK, Germany, Denmark and Sweden are the only four countries to exceed their climate goals. Why? These countries outperformed the U.S. because they created new jobs when they changed how they created and delivered energy.
Although this country has some very difficult challenges ahead of it, Clinton ended his speech with some words of encouragement, “On balance, I am widely optimistic about the future.”