When it comes down to it, the US economy didn’t have a bad 2015.
GDP growth was in the same range as its been since the financial crisis, jobs were added, and consumers were spending money.
And all in all there were good things going on out there.
But according to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, these positives may not be back in 2016.
“What I am concerned about, I’ll be honest with you, is as you look at 2015, there are a lot of things that went the consumers’ way and that went the economy’s way not the least of which are energy prices,” said Stephenson in his company’s earnings call Tuesday.
“And so as we get to end of 2015, those benefits that we’ve seen over the last couple of quarters, if you look forward, are you going to see those in the future? Probably not.”
The CEO of the telecom and media giant first offered a take on the economy last week during an interview with the WSJ at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland calling 2% GDP growth “unacceptable.”
This time around when asked for his outlook (a JP Morgan analyst asked for his opinion since he was an “economic savant”), he was more measured though no less down on the US economy’s prospects.
“And so I made a comment last week that got picked up that we’re assuming 2%, if you ask me to kind of handicap is there more downside or upside to that, probably downside,” he said during the call.
Specifically, Stephenson noted 3 downside risks and 2 upside risks.
His downsides were pretty much in line with consensus. Risks to the manufacturing sector, exporters to China, and businesses with a high level of sales overseas.
On the other hand, his bright spots were the “benefit from 2 million people being put back to work” and an increase in consumer spending due to low energy prices.
In many economists’ view, the good story of the economy is enough to sustain the US, but Stephenson is seems to have a more bearish attitude.
Stephenson’s call came after AT&T barely missed on revenue with $42.12 billion in Q4, against a $42.75 billion expectation from Wall Street. Earnings per share came in at $0.63 a share, right in line with expectations.
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