News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mark Bennett Opinion

November 7, 2009

MARK BENNETT: 2010’s economic forecast signals less uneasiness, modestly better times

INDIANAPOLIS — In a pivotal scene in the film “Field of Dreams,” Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella feels unfairly excluded from the fun. He’d risked his land, livelihood and reputation to give ghosts of legendary baseball players a diamond in the middle of his corn crops, where they can magically come back to life, suit up and play.

Ray confronts the ringleader, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, and sheepishly demands to know “what’s in it for me?”

Disappointed in Ray, Jackson responds, “Is that what this is all about?”

If most of us are honest about our outlook on life after the brutal recession of 2008-09, we’re surely all asking “what’s in it for me?”

A team of economists from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business tried to answer that question, from a variety of angles, Thursday morning during the renowned college’s annual economic forecast.

In a nutshell, you may worry less in 2010 than you have in 2009.

That’s all relative, of course. There’s nowhere to go but up, because this year has been “really, really awful,” as Bill Witte, a lead member of the IU panel and a retired associate professor of economics, put it.

The event’s emcee described Witte and fellow IU economists Rob Neal, Jerry Conover and Kyle Anderson as “fight doctors,” like corner men in boxing, trying to patch up a room full of recession-battered businesspeople sitting in the ironically elegant Columbia Club on Monument Circle. “I feel like I’ve been visited by the ghost of Howard Cosell, and it’s fight night,” the emcee said. “I’d like to know if this economy is going to fight for a few more rounds, or go down for the count.”

Well, apparently, the cans of whoop-[butt] will remain unopened next year. But our economic jabs and hooks may pack a little more punch.

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