Austan Goolsbee, who served as chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, was the keynote speaker at City National Bank's annual Economic & Investment Forums. The bank hosted events in Beverly Hills, New York City, San Francisco and Orange County in conjunction with RBC Capital Markets and RBC Wealth Management.

The forums, held every January, are designed to deliver valuable information to clients of City National Bank and RBC with the goal of helping them plan effectively for the year ahead.

City National Chairman and CEO Russell Goldsmith discussed his outlook on the U.S. economy.

“In my view, 2018 looks to be a year of continuing economic strength for the United States," he said, adding that evidence of that strength can be seen in:

  • Last quarter's 3.2 percent GDP growth
  • The robust Index of Leading Indicators
  • High levels of CEO confidence
  • A very low unemployment rate

Goolsbee, currently the Robert P. Gwinn professor of economics at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, stated that while he expected U.S. economic growth to be positive this year, there is some reason to be cautious.

Still, he said, “The innovative capacity of the American people has proved unbounded" and made the U.S. the richest country in the world. He expressed confidence that innovation will continue to drive a strong U.S. economy in the future.

Mark Forbes, City National's Real Estate Banking manager, gave an update on the real estate markets.

Since 2010 nationally:

  • Average home prices have risen 16 percent
  • Apartment rents jumped 64 percent
  • Industrial properties have seen increasing demand – and vacancy has fallen by almost half
  • Class A office rents are up 21.5 percent

City National Rochdale's Chief Executive Officer Garrett D'Alessandro led two panel discussions on financial markets and investment strategies.

  • One focused on financial markets and investment strategies, featuring RBC Capital Markets' Managing Directors Steve Cahall, head of media research, and Mark Mahaney, head of internet research. They discussed the likelihood of further consolidation in major media brands and the continued potential for the large internet stocks to keep growing, given the fact that their household penetration rate is still reasonably low.
  • “This should be a golden era for content," Mahaney said.
  • The second panel included Tom Galvin and Paul Single, senior portfolio managers at City National Rochdale, talking about the 2018 outlook for bonds, interest rates and Fed policy. They spoke about risks that investors should be aware of, including:
    • An unexpected upturn in delinquencies or acceleration of inflation
    • A shock to the economy on the order of 9-11 style attack
    • A serious trade war
    • Euphoric investor behavior such as that seen recently in the cryptocurrency markets
    • A very low unemployment rate

For more highlights of the Economic and Investment Forum, watch the extended video.

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