During 2021, vaccines and booster shots paved the way for a brief return to some semblance of normalcy, however as we enter 2022 the nearly two-year global health crisis is not over. Since the end of November, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has surged, bringing record high daily counts of infection resulting in many companies further delaying their long-awaited return-to-office. Staffing shortages and the global supply chain challenges continue to wreak havoc on businesses and Omicron has the potential to further disrupt travel including the airline, hotel, and group meeting and convention industries.  The good news is that it is not a matter of if, however when, the COVID 19 pandemic will either end or become an endemic disease which would be easier for the world’s population to coexist with.  In the interim, the economic devastation wrought by government-mandated shutdowns and restrictions during 2020 are well on their way to healing as even with the recent surge in cases, it does not appear that there will be additional widespread shutdowns or lockdowns.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, America’s economy is now bigger than it was pre-COVID as the quarterly GDP level rose to $19.4 trillion in the second quarter of 2021, higher than the $19.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2019. U.S. consumers, flush with trillions of dollars of fiscal stimulus, are snapping up manufactured goods and scarce materials at a record pace. Although during the near-term interest rates are anticipated to rise, on a relative long term historical basis they have and will continue to remain ultra-low. Corporate earnings have experienced a boost from recently unleashed pent-up consumer demand resulting in continued record high U.S. stock market indexes.

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