Last week, Chief Economist of Webster Bank Dr. Nicholas Perna addressed a group of Wilton Chamber of Commerce members and guests at Marly\u2019s Bar & Bistro for the Chamber\u2019s 2016 annual economic forecast\u00a0breakfast. Making his 12th return as the event\u2019s keynote speaker, Perna on Jan. 14 discussed financial landscapes, global and domestic, at both the federal and state levels. His\u00a0remarks on the global economy centered largely around China, how it differs economically from the United States, and why he believes the Chinese economy is less problematic than some U.S. media outlets make it out to be. \u201cWhat they don\u2019t realize,\u201d said Perna, \u201cis that China is very different from the United States; the Chinese authorities can do anything they want.\u201d Perna explained that, like \u201cterrible marksmen\u201d who make up for their poor accuracy with more shots fired, the Chinese mitigate poor policy fallout with an \u201cunlimited\u201d federal reserve and the fiscal freedom to use it. \u201cThe Chinese economic authorities are terrible marksmen \u2014 as you can see from the policies that they\u2019ve implemented \u2014 but they have unlimited ammunition, and they\u2019re eventually going to hit the target,\u201d Perna said. Some U.S. taxpayers are unhappy with the large proportion of bad loans held by domestic banks. But this isn\u2019t China, Perna said. \u201cChina buys all the loans up; you can\u2019t do that here. The federal reserve is constrained by statute, and the Congress is constrained by everything.\u201d \u201cWith China, it is what they want it to be, and if they figure out what the right thing to do is, they\u2019ll do it. So I\u2019m less concerned about China,\u201d Perna said. His greater concern is with how United States citizens inaccurately perceive this nation\u2019s economic relationship with that foreign superpower. According to Perna, the United States has \u201cvery little\u201d exposure to the Chinese stock market and \u201cmoderate,\u201d at best, exposure to the Chinese economy. What we do know, Perna said, is that the attempts of Chinese companies to \u201crestore competitiveness\u201d through wage increases have resulted in a devaluation of Chinese currency, making the dollar stronger and causing earnings overseas to appear weaker due to the translation effect. \u201cEven though we\u2019re not directly exposed to Chinese stocks,\u201d he said, \u201cwe are exposed to these forces, and the problem is that we tend to overreact to these things.\u201d U.S. economy U.S. stock prices are down. \u201cThat puts it in correction territory,\u201d Perna said. \u201cSo what? We\u2019ve been there a billion times.\u201d In his opinion, while the nation is not exactly \u201cimmune\u201d to any recession caused by its stocks, the U.S. stock market \u201cgets overrated as a driver\u201d in general economic forecasting. \u201cThe stock market in the United States is a poor leading indicator of recession,\u201d Perna said. \u201c[It] is not the economy; it is, however, a good indicator of when the economy is going to turn around.\u201d That brought Perna to his discussion of the U.S. economy on the whole, which he thinks has turned around, in some respects. \u201cRight now, things are going pretty well,\u201d he said, citing specifically post-recession job growth as \u201cvery good.\u201d On the other hand, the measure of gross domestic product \u201cis not very good,\u201d Perna continued, admitting that real GDP is the single \u201cbiggest measure of overall economy.\u201d Connecticut The economy of Connecticut, in Perna\u2019s opinion, is doing \u201cOK,\u201d too, but according to him, how you see it depends on what you\u2019re comparing it to and how you\u2019re comparing it. \u201cDespite what you may think or what you may have heard, the Connecticut economy is not doing all that badly. Compared to what? Well, compared to what it was doing before,\u201d he said. While Connecticut tied the nation for job growth in early post-recession 2009, the state began to lag circa 2011, Perna said. But measuring November 2015 against November 2014, Connecticut is up 27,000 jobs, 1.6% compared to 2% nationally \u2014 \u201cnot really shabby,\u201d Perna said. \u201cWe could be doing a lot better,\u201d Perna admitted, but by his reasoning, that doesn\u2019t mean the state is in poor economic shape. \u201cI think there\u2019s a feeling that the state is going down, and it is in some ways, but it\u2019s not in terms of jobs.\u201d GE With General Electric relocating its headquarters from Connecticut to Boston, Perna commented briefly on the $250-billion industrial giant\u2019s move and what that might mean for this state\u2019s economy. \u201cNo matter why GE left, it\u2019s always going to be, \u2018They left because of Connecticut\u2019s taxes and budget problems,\u2019\u201d Perna said. \u201cThat\u2019s the story that every state recruiter is going to tell.\u201d He was willing to allow that the introduction of the unitary tax, to which many are attributing GE\u2019s move, was \u201cbungled from the get-go,\u201d and admitted that he couldn\u2019t really say for sure if the mandate influenced the corporation\u2019s decision to leave or not. But Perna thinks otherwise. In his opinion, what corporations in Connecticut are truly worried about are the unfunded pension liabilities here, and, more particularly, what exactly is going the happen when\u00a0those chickens come home to roost. \u201cWho\u2019s going to be asked to pony up here?\u201d Perna asked rhetorically, adding that it\u2019s not just pension liabilities, but \u201chuge\u201d unfunded medical care liabilities that Connecticut corporations wonder and worry about.