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posted: 10/25/2012 4:20 PM

Economy likely to remain shaky, economists tell Naperville chamber

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The national economy is holding in a "slow growth pattern," several economists told the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday, but they warned things may get worse before they get better.

North Central College political science professor Stephan Caliendo moderated the discussion featuring John Calamos, CEO of Calamos Investments; DePaul University economics professor Michael Miller; and Ben Taylor, Great Lakes regional director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Calamos was first to predict the steady trend of slow growth would continue, but said he thinks the arrow is pointed in the right direction.

"People are very nervous about what might happen," Calamos said. "There's a lot of money on the sidelines and a lot of people worrying about taxes and what might happen. So we need to get that money to work and I think the U.S. economy will respond."

Miller, however, said "it's not looking good out there," referencing many predictions of a "double-dip" recession that Calamos thinks we've avoided.

The fiscal cliff, Miller said, the result of expiring federal tax cuts and plummeting revenue, may be closer than we think.

"Clearly the problem is the economy is slowing when it should be growing faster," he said.

One thing all three agreed on was the need for "real" tax reform coming from Washington, D.C.

Locally, however, the chamber's interim president, Tami Andrew, said good things will come to those who wait.

"We've seen sales taxes growing locally. There's some good things happening locally but we can only do so much," Andrew said. "We're going to have to be patient throughout this election. No matter who gets into office, I think we're going to see a dramatic change one way or the other."

But she called Naperville and DuPage County "economic microcosms" that the rest of country should be looking to.

"We look at (DuPage County) Chairman (Dan) Cronin and the fact that he and (Bob) Schillerstrom before him had balanced budgets and made tough decisions," she said. "We just don't have anybody willing to do that on a national level. It's always about 'What do I have to do to get re-elected?'"

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