On January 28th, the Alumni Association in partnership with the School of Business held a virtual School of Business alumni panel discussion to forecast the 2021 economy. The panel discussion, moderated by Dean Richard Vogel, featured FSC alumnus Kenneth Rende '82, FSC faculty members Dr. J. Betty Feng, and Dr. Kenneth Liao. With attendance from FSC alumni spanning over four decades, the panelist addressed questions about Long Island’s ever-evolving economy for the upcoming year.
They started off by giving their overall opinion on what they think the economy will do in 2021. All the panelists had hopeful predictions for the economy taking a turn for the better. Dr. Ken Liao commented that even though the American economy is in a current state of crisis he thinks it will get better as the year progresses and not too slowly as well, he added. Dr. Betty Feng agreed and suggested that high technology and environmentally driven companies will benefit from this year's economic growth.
Off to a hopeful start, Dr. Vogel asked the panelists about their views on how the Covid-19 vaccine may impact the economy. Kenneth Rende indicated that he felt that the new Biden administration would be better equipped to distribute the vaccine as they have addressed this issue as a primary focus. Dr. Liao added that as we work toward herd immunity he believes we may see a “K-shape recovery” only after the infection rate drops below an “R” rate of one. Dr. Feng pointed out that the education sector experienced significant revenue losses during the pandemic from international students. We also saw a massive impact on companies in the tourism industry. She believes that the vaccine could be a contributing factor to help correct these significant declines.
President Dr. Nadar also in attendance at the event asked the panelists their thoughts on how the pandemic may impact the commercial real estate market. Kenneth Rende responded that many companies are learning to operate with a significant percentage of employees working from home and appear to be performing very well. He believes that when companies return to the office there will be a smaller market footprint for traditional office space. However, there could be growth in the market for regional distribution facilities that are heavily included in packing and shipping as more individuals have more of their everyday purchases shipped to their doorstep. Dr. Betty Feng commented that employees working from home may also start to experience a more enjoyable work-life balance. Since there is minimal commuting for at-home workers, once they clock-out they can immediately enjoy their time spent away from their desks.
In closing, the panelist had an opportunity to say their final prediction on the 2021 economy. Kenneth Rende state that it will be important for investors to diversify their investment portfolios and to protect current assets. Dr. Liao suggested that we would have growth and a turn for the better. Dr. Feng agreed and had a positive view of the 2021 economy.