The further the U.S. gets from the last downturn, the greater the likelihood that another challenge will eventually “rear its head again,” says Mercantile Bank Corp. President and CEO Robert Kaminski. Yet as 2018 approaches, Kaminski doesn’t see any warnings signs from the Grand Rapids-based bank’s clients that portend a downturn is imminent. Instead, he expects the U.S. economy to stay on track.
“At the start of ’17 … we were thinking, ‘OK, if we saw a downturn in ’18, I don’t think anybody would be surprised.’ Now you look on the horizon, it seems a fair bet that we can make it through 2018 without experiencing that downturn, but we’re always looking for potential warning signs. We’re staying very close — as we always do — with our customers and keeping a grasp of what they’re seeing out there from their activity standpoint, if they’re seeing continued opportunities for growth or expansion or if there’s some pullback, which we haven’t seen to this point. That’s always a foreshadowing of some challenges to come in the economy. … From a GDP standpoint, I think we’re certainly not as robust as many people would like to see, but it is a solid road nonetheless and subject to revision that you see from the numbers from time to time. The numbers are decently solid, that’s for sure. Obviously, the wild card is what happens in the political arena with legislation and tax reform. That will certainly have some effect on the economy, but from an overall standpoint, if we keep going as we’re going, we’ll see another solid year in 2018.”