Commentary: Is gloom over the economy justified?

This editorial appeared in The Myrtle Beach Sun.

Here's the key point for readers to consider as they mull over the gloomy Grand Strand economic forecast delivered this week by Coastal Carolina University's research economist Don Schunk: It's just a forecast.

Like weather forecasts, economic forecasts are as likely to be wrong as right. If anything, the variables that determine whether an economic forecast comes true, residing as they do in human hearts and minds, are more complex than the variables that can spoil weather forecasts.

Sure, as Schunk told the Strand's Economic Outlook Board on Wednesday, the economic indicators for the coming year are dismal right now. The factors that determine the Strand's economic health - employment, home construction, airport traffic, tourist visits and retail sales - are in decline and likely to decline further during 2009.

He may be right that these disturbing trends could hamper the local economy well into 2010. But as Schunk would be the first to agree, the accuracy of this week's forecast is vulnerable to changes in human feelings and behavior that are undetectable right now.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Myrtle Beach Sun.