Baker School of Business professor weighs in on possible recession

As seen on ABC News 4, by Caroline Balchunas

“There are two elements that are causing most concern and that is our trade differences with China and the circumstances with the financial markets and interest rates,” said Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel. “How this is going to play out is very difficult to tell but it can be extremely disruptive.”

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This week marked the worst day for Wall Street all year and has fueled concerns the nation is headed toward another recession. Those fears have trickled to the Lowcountry.

Charleston was hit hard by the Great Recession a decade ago. It was fueled by the housing mortgage crisis, but experts say the situation is different this time around.

“There are two elements that are causing most concern and that is our trade differences with China and the circumstances with the financial markets and interest rates,” said Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel. “How this is going to play out is very difficult to tell but it can be extremely disruptive.”

Ebeling said until the global trade issues come to fruition, it’s too soon to tell how it will all shake out, adding there’s a lot at stake in the Charleston-area, especially with the Port of Charleston.

“The trade situation particularly impacts the greater Charleston area because Charleston is a growing and important international hub for importing and exporting,” he said. “That’s what all these companies are doing here, opening manufacturing facilities, warehouses, they’re shipping their goods to other places around the country or more importantly around the world.”

Despite recession concerns, Ebeling said consumer confidence and spending is up and unemployment and inflation levels remain low.

Mount Pleasant realtor Cheryll Woods-Flowers said Charleston’s housing market is healthy. She said inventory has been down for several years, but home prices are still up, about four-percent higher than last year.

“Our market here is strong, it is absolutely still very, very strong and interest rates are certainly helping with that,” Woods-Flowers said. “This is a great time to buy a house. If you’ve never bought a house this is a perfect time because the prices are going down, which is typical this time of year.”

While the nation’s financial future bears a watchful eye, Woods-Flowers said she’s not seeing anything resembling the hallmarks of the past recession.

“I’m optimistic it’s going to be fine. I’m very optimistic that it’s not going to be what it was in 2007 through 2009,” she said. “It’s still a good time to sell because if you think there might be a recession down the road, the price you can get for your house today might be better than what you get next year, if we went into a recession.”

Ebeling recommends people seek advice from a financial adviser before making any decisions regarding the stock market or other financial funds.