The Charlotte business community gathered Monday for a diagnostic take on the U.S. economy from the city's top industries. Executives of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Duke Energy, Nucor and Premier health care alliance offered a grim picture of slow growth and high unemployment.
If the U.S. economy had a life coach, every pep-talk these days would be along the lines of "Look pal, you gotta 'Fake it 'til you make it.' Confidence breeds success. All this worry is bringing you down."
"There's just not a lot of confidence out there," says Wells Fargo senior executive David Carroll. And without confidence, people and businesses too nervous to spend the money it'll take to get the economy out of its funk.
"We travel all over the country meeting with our clients – retail, commercial, corporate – and nobody wants to take a very long view on things," said Carroll at the Charlotte Chamber's Annual Economic Outlook luncheon.
Carroll says his clients are worried about what their taxes will be, what healthcare will cost and what the dollar will be worth. The most pressing question is whether Washington gridlock lead the U.S. off a fiscal cliff of steep spending cuts and higher taxes.
Every speaker at the Chamber luncheon mentioned the fiscal cliff, but Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers took a contrary view. He told Charlotte business leaders not to fear the cliff.
"It's just a slide," said Rogers. "And the reality is going over it is not a bad thing cause we need more pain to do the hard things our leaders are unwilling to do," like cut entitlement spending and reign in government debt.
Rather than worry what Washington will do, Rogers says we're better off to focus on making North Carolina as business-friendly as possible.