2012 Outlook


After a tumultuous 2011, in which the Arab Spring, the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, the…

Georgia (Jan 23, 2012)

After a tumultuous 2011, in which the Arab Spring, the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, the financial crisis in Europe and the continued economic malaise in the U.S. dominated the headlines, it is anybody’s guess what’s in store for 2012. That is why Kennesaw State University Magazine has asked some Kennesaw State professors to look into their crystal balls and see what is on the horizon for 2012. Our experts weigh in on the economy, politics, education, health care and global politics.

Economic vulnerability threatens growth

by Don Sabbarese, professor of economics in the Coles College of Business

Sabbarese is director of Kennesaw State’s Econometric Center, which prepares the monthly Purchasing Managers Index for Georgia and the Southeast, as well as the Georgia International Business Index.

Economists will begin to rub their crystal balls by the fourth quarter of 2011 as they attempt to forecast what’s in store for 2012. The current recovery poses an even greater challenge because of the countervailing forces that have whipsawed the economy and made it vulnerable to any event that brings growth sustainability into question. This has led to a vicious cycle between sustainability, uncertainty and anemic job growth.

The coming year will remain vulnerable to sovereign-debt problems, unrest in the Middle East, weak real-estate markets and bank balance sheet problems. Real estate and banking will improve, albeit very slowly. Corporate balance sheets will remain strong thanks to global economic growth, especially in Southeast Asia and South America.

Private-sector jobs will grow as state and local governments continue to shed jobs at a slower pace. Manufacturing will remain a growth sector fueled by exports, automobile sales and business spending on capital goods. Consumer spending will improve but remain limited due to inadequate job and income growth. A severely damaged financial sector and household balance sheets will take longer to recover. Gross Domestic Product growth should range between 2.5 percent and 2.8 percent. 

Politics of the extremes dominates 2012 presidential campaign

by Kerwin Swint, professor of political science in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Swint is an author and sought-after expert on political campaigns and elections, mass media and political history.

Politically, this year will be dominated by the 2012 presidential campaign, in which Barack Obama will attempt to become the third sitting president in a row to be reelected for a second term. His success will likely depend on the country’s economic performance in the first half of 2012: job growth, the price of gas and other short-term indicators. This comes at a time when partisanship, from both sides of the political aisle, is at an all-time high. Neither party trusts the other at all, and as both parties have become dominated by the extremes, it seems that no one in Washington can work together for us, the people. Government spending and public debt will be a front-burner issue. Can health care reform survive? Can we afford more tax cuts? Foreign policy will also be important. What role will we play in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan? The killing of Osama Bin Laden was big, but serious national security challenges await us.

Education reform focuses on student achievement 

by Arlinda J. Eaton, dean of the Bagwell College of Education

Eaton, an expert in elementary education, is a professor of curriculum and instruction in the Bagwell College’s Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education.

In 2012 the American agenda for education reform will remain focused on P-12 student learning and achievement. Driven by the notion that other countries are far ahead in student performance, the U.S. Department of Education is making an effort to examine the strategies employed in Canada, China, Finland, Japan and Singapore.

Resources from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are supporting the Race to the Top initiative, now implemented in 11 states and the District of Columbia. As a recipient of this funding, Georgia will address four issues in 26 school districts: 1) adopting standards and assessments that prepare P-12 students to succeed in college; 2) building data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction; 3) recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals; and 4) turning around the lowest-achieving schools.

Colleges of education nationwide are giving serious attention to the recommendations found in a recent report on how to prepare effective teachers. This report, commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, serves as a call to action. 

Coordinated health care a must for aging baby boomers

by David Bennett, associate dean for planning, communication and infrastructure in the WellStar College of Health and Human Services

Bennett, an expert in nursing accreditation and global health care, teaches health assessment in the undergraduate nursing program.

The crystal ball relating to the future of health care is cloudy due to rising costs, the aging of the baby boom generation and health care reform. In this environment, the WellStar College of Health and Human Services is positioned to produce graduates who will be able to work as team members to make a difference in the lives of people in the communities they serve. Nurses and social workers will be needed in ever-growing numbers to coordinate the care of increasing numbers of people with chronic illnesses who need monitoring, education and coordination to deal with their diseases effectively. Coordinated care reduces health care costs by decreasing hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Specialists in exercise and physical education will work within health care teams to address the growing levels of obesity and diabetes among children in our communities. Early intervention in chronic diseases and population problems such as obesity, smoking and communicable disease will help to lower health care costs and enhance quality of life.

Middle East, Africa issues remain unanswered

by Maia Hallward, assistant professor of political science in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Hallward is a professor in the Ph.D. program in international conflict management and serves as associate editor for theJournal of Peacebuilding and Development.

In 2012, it is likely that questions regarding the political situation in the Middle East and North Africa will remain unanswered. The United States is scheduled to pull its remaining troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, and it remains to be seen whether U.S. military advisers will be invited to remain. Egyptian elections could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power, which would have implications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, as the Hamas leadership in Gaza might find a more amicable border with Egypt.

Likewise, the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations could have repercussions echoing into 2012, and increasing social unrest within Israel could herald popular pressure on leaders. The withdrawal of U.S. and Israeli funds from UNESCO as a consequence of that body’s acceptance of Palestine as a member may have a wide variety of consequences, and other U.N. agencies are likely to follow UNESCO’s lead. Libya and Syria remain question marks as Libya must create a new government after Gadafi’s overthrow and the Syrian regime continues to exert force against protestors.



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