Even though the U.S. economy seems to be recovering after the global financial crisis that began in 2008, “Consumers and financial institutions remain very cautious, with a weak housing market, high unemployment, and continuing risk throughout Europe,” says Dale Cougot, senior economist for the National Cotton Council.

While economic growth seems to be resuming as a result of government-initiated programs, it has come “at a very large cost. Now, the challenge is to bring U.S. debt to more sustainable levels without jeopardizing the recovery.”

“Inflation will likely remain quite low, along with the Fed’s current near-zero interest rates. But unemployment continues to linger around 9.7 percent. For the U.S. to sustain steady growth will require recovery in bank lending, the housing market, and more importantly, consumer confidence and consumer spending — which depend on jobs, jobs, and more jobs,” he said at the annual joint meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and the Delta Council’s Ginning and Cotton Quality Improvement Committee at Stoneville, Miss.

e-mail: hbrandon@farmpress.com