By most measures, 2008 is not presenting a pretty economic picture. The downside risks are profuse–from the collapse in home prices, to the potential for additional trauma from the subprime market, to the supply and price issues in energy and raw materials. For the first time in years, the U.S. is the principal global slacker in terms of economic growth. While the weakness in the dollar can ultimately help our export imbalance and deter some of the movement of jobs overseas, it also significantly reduces our buying power as a nation and diminishes our leverage in global markets. Although a measured response from the Federal Reserve may avert recession, the nation could still face a politically uncomfortable economy–feeble growth in consumer income and assets as home values contract, salaries grow minimally and the markets gyrate, while simultaneously prices on such essentials as energy, medical care and now even food are trending upward. Treasury & Risk has asked economists M. Cary Leahey of Decision Economics, Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett and John Lonski of Moody's Investors Service to suggest strategies for weathering the unfavorable economic clime.

Watching Overseas GrowM. Cary LeaheySenior Managing Director,Decision Economics Inc.Worries about recession risks abound when talking about the economic outlook for 2008. Real energy prices are high, the two-year-old housing recession shows few signs of quitting, and the financial markets are inturmoil. Is there a ray of sunshine in what otherwise portends to be a disappointing, if not dismal, 2008? Surprisingly, yes–but one that companies need to prepare for if they are to benefit.

The overseas economic backdrop is the strongest in 35 years. (See chart) Since 2006, the U.S. has gone from the G-7 economic growth leader to growth laggard. GDP growth dropped to 2.1% in 2007 from 2.9% in 2006, while overseas GDP growth is expected to remain unchanged at 6%. Next year, U.S. GDP growth should fade a bit more to 1.9%, while overseas GDP growth fades to only 5.7%. At the same time, the dollar has been in decline for five years and has now more than reversed the previous seven years of appreciation to confine it to its lowest level since 1995.

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