Locals say economy poor

| 02/10/2008

(CNS): Consumers are pessimistic about the status of the Cayman Islands economy according to the findings of the most recent Tower Omnibus Survey. The survey found 35 percent of all respondents feel that the Cayman Islands economy is doing poorly, and only 15 percent said they thought it was doing well.

The consumer research survey was carried out among 1,000 respondents and of those 477 were Caymanians. Among those the level of pessimism was even greater with nearly 42 percent of Caymanians saying the economy was doing poorly while 28 percent felt it was showing an average performance and under 15 percent said it was doing well. In both case the remaining percentage either did not respond to the question or said they did not know. The question on the economy was privately sponsored by local economist and consultant Paul Byles, Managing Director of Focus Corporate Services & Consulting.

 “I thought the question would provide us with some insights on the actual state of things on the ground, aside from the anecdotal evidence out there”, said Byles. There seems to be some differing views on how our economy is doing. People often point to the number of new licenses in the offshore sector as an indication, but while this is a good partial indicator there are other factors that when brought together, can give a clearer indication of how the local economy is really doing.”

He said that a survey question like the economy one, while not official data, provides important information about confidence in the wider economy, an indicator that has been utilised by most advanced economies for years. Byles added that it shows that there is a lack of confidence in the local economy and is something that policymakers should take serious note of because it also affects their expenditure patterns in the short to medium term. 

Byles said that the Government should create an index of various indicators to utilise as a ‘confidence measure’ which can be included in planning discussions among policymakers and officials on where the country’s economy is going as it helps to better forecast future expenditure and investment behaviour.  

“Having an indicator of either business or consumer confidence in the economy which can be compared to previous periods as a benchmark has been implemented in most advanced countries for decades. Its just that the Cayman Islands is unfortunately very much behind in comparison when it comes to drawing on tools, and the underlying information, for modern economic planning and management. It is important that the traditional approach changes very soon” added Byles.

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