BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It has been said that after this year, there will be fewer people suggesting that hindsight is always 2020. More than ever, many are looking ahead to the following year, a process that began in November at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business with presentations of its Business Outlook forecast for 2021.
Since 1972, Kelley School faculty have presented their forecast around the state each year, usually joined by a local panelist. But as with other annual events, the school and its Indiana Business Research Center hosted 10 regional events virtually.
Each presentation was recorded and is now available to watch free of charge through the IBRC website. Links to replay all of the regional events are available at its page for the “Business Outlook Panel.”
The Kelley panel continues to believe that the economy’s restart will continue in 2021, but with substantial deceleration from what was achieved earlier this year.
The Indiana Business Research Center also is making its complete and expanded forecast available through the winter issue of the Indiana Business Review, a publication that has been around since 1926. That special, year-end issue is now available online.
Included are articles about the global economy and more than a dozen urban areas across the state — including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville and Terre Haute — as well as Louisville. There also are reports on the outlooks for the financial and housing markets.
In addition to the Indiana Business Review, consumers, policymakers and business executives alike will find many other resources all year round at the Indiana Business Research Center website. They include a number of versatile web-based tools, including Indiana’s leading resource for economic and demographic data, STATS Indiana; and a broader, national version, STATS America.
Each year, it can be challenging for economists at Kelley, IU and partner schools around the state to prepare the forecast. That was particularly true this year.
“Forecasting, generally, is a challenging art even during times of relative normalcy. Within the context of an ongoing pandemic — where all or parts of various interrelated economies are halted and restarted — forecasting at this moment is unlike any in the past 100 years,” said state forecast co-authors Kyle Anderson, clinical assistant professor of business economics at Kelley and faculty chair of the Evening MBA Program; and Ryan Brewer, associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.
Willard Witte, professor emeritus of economics, author of the national forecast and a longtime veteran contributor to the annual forecast, agreed.
“The past six months are in no way a normal recession/recovery. They are a shutdown/restart. Patterns from our history of normal business cycles are essentially irrelevant,” Witte said. “There is massive uncertainty in the current situation, starting with the changed political landscape. A year from now, we think that we will be able to report that 2021 was a better year than 2020. But that is a very low bar.”