From the Gloucester County Times:
A downturn in housing transactions and volatile gasoline prices should keep the regional economy flat at best through the first half of 2007, a panel suggested Tuesday at a quarterly business outlook seminar sponsored by Rutgers University in Camden.
“If you like 2006, you will like 2007,” promised Joel Naroff, chief economist for Commerce Bank, during the session at Cherry Hill’s Clarion Hotel.
Consumers have been driving the economy, Naroff suggested.
Naroff indicated he is concerned by negative savings rates, a housing cycle downturn that “has quite a while to go” and consumer reliance in home equity loans to finance their lifestyles.
“They have been using their houses as ATM machines,” Naroff asserted.
However, a soft real estate market has an “awful lot” of homeowners seeking to sell but no offers at the price they want, Naroff said.
In New Jersey, deposits at banks increased at less than one percent between June 2005 and June 2006, said Michael Quick, chairman of Susquehanna Patriot Bank.
“Deposit growth has not been there,” he said.