Up Front - The Publisher's Column
The Crystal Ball
In the first issue each year, Florida Trend talks to experts who bravely predict the future. To start 2014, we turned to executives in construction, hospitality, insurance, health and the automotive sector.
They all see the bright side — “I see it in a positive mode.” ... “I’m excited.” ... “We’re seeing good signs.” ... “I think it’s going to be a good year.” ... “We’ll be up a little bit.”
Those sentiments lead me to be optimistic. Now I’m going to gaze into my own crystal ball at what I see happening in Florida’s future:
Population— UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness foresees population growth of about 275,000 people this year. We’ll be very close to 20 million but won’t cross it until the first quarter of 2015. Nevertheless, this huge growth will continue driving Florida’s economy.
Housing— As our population grows, Florida’s housing stock will continue to expand. Expect housing starts to keep moving north, though not at the frenzied pace of a decade ago.
Flood Insurance— Unless this flood insurance mess gets solved at the federal level, Floridians will be forced to pay even more for insurance, despite all the evidence that we have been net payers over the past 25 years. This problem could bollix the housing recovery.
Employment— The recovery continues, but sporadically. We still don’t have as many jobs as half a dozen years ago. Housing starts are up, tourism numbers are strong and retail is improving. That will keep employment growing. But unemployment won’t go away. And the poorly educated will have the worst luck finding a job.
Medicaid— Florida will bow to reality and take the federal Medicaid money. It means jobs for doctors, nurses and everyone else in the health care field, including orderlies and parking attendants. Why should poorer Floridians get less care than those in other states?
Obamacare— While it’s off to an ugly start, it’s here to stay. The boobirds are out in force. Fixes and delays might be the norm now. But wake up in a couple of years, and universal health insurance will be part of our landscape.
Dow 19,000— Astute folks like those at BNY Mellon see the Dow rising another 15% or so to around 19,000 before the inevitable “correction.” Surely you can find contrary views. But I’m sticking with these guys.
Politics — We will witness one of the fiercest gubernatorial races ever. Gov. Rick Scott will spend more than $100 million, and the Democrats won’t be far behind. TV stations will get rich. I’m not predicting a winner this far out.
Each January, Florida Trend also names a Floridian of the Year. This year, it’s Pat Geraghty, CEO of Florida Blue, the state’s largest health insurer and perhaps its boldest. Geraghty is taking Florida Blue in new directions, evolving the company as the nation’s health care system itself evolves. Retail locations, forprofit acquisitions and strong opinions on Medicaid are all part of Geraghty’s strategy.
Speaking of health care, we also focus on executive wellness in this issue. Each of us needs to adopt different strategies depending on our stage of life. Starting on page 46, we report what leading physicians say we need to do to stay healthy in our 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.
On a personal health note, last year I concentrated on jogging. I can report completing the Turkey Trot 5k on a chilly Thanksgiving morning.
Our son Robert ran ahead and finished in 18:23, while son Edward paced me. We finished in 30:56, which is 2:16 faster than last year, proving that regular training pays off.