Economist: Aspen on right track | AspenTimes.com

Economist: Aspen on right track

ASPEN – When the U.S. economy is good, Aspen does “incredible.”

So what happens when the U.S. economy is bad?

“You all suck,” said Dr. Ted C. Jones, chief economist for Stewart Title Guaranty Co. “You are a function of what people feel because they are coming here to spend their money.”

But the outlook for Aspen isn’t all doom and gloom.

“I see sprouts coming out of the ground that things are turning around,” Jones said at Wednesday’s Aspen Board of Realtors luncheon.

In fact, there are several signs that Aspen’s economy is on the upswing. Among them: notable growth in the Pitkin County job market; an upward trend in home prices; and increases in single-family-home and condo sales for two years running.

“Two consecutive years of gains … your markets are recovering. Do you see that?” he asked, pointing to bar graphs illuminating the increase from 74 single-family closings in 2009 to 101 in 2010 and 109 last year. “Your markets held up better than you think.”

Also noteworthy, Jones said, is that Colorado is the 15th-best “business tax environment.”

“Where does corporate America relocate to?” he asked the assembled group. The answer: a place with jet service, interstate access and “a place the CEO wants to live.”

“Did I just describe Aspen?” he quipped.

Along the same lines, Jones pointed out the importance of the Aspen name.

“Any place you go in the world, people know of Aspen. You’re special. You’re different,” he said.

In the end, this will benefit Aspen’s ability to recapture home buyers, investors and visitors, he said. Right now, individuals are recovering, but they are sitting on their cash, he said.

“But when they decide to spend, it’s going to be good,” he said. “They are not going to be buying cars. They are going to go after real estate.”

Still, questions loom for 2012, and Jones has concerns. Chief among them are the uncertainty in Washington, D.C., the jobs outlook, the threat of terrorism, and U.S. energy policies.

“We have a ways to go,” he cautioned. “But I want you all to think big right now because this economy coming up is much better than it’s been.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com


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