The effect of the Great Recession on state growth continued to be the topic of the moment at the Wilton Chamber of Commerce\u2019s Eggs and the Economy breakfast Tuesday, Jan. 14. Dr. Nicholas Perna, chief economist with Webster Bank, returned this year as the keynote speaker. Explaining that recovery periods after financial crises are generally slow to advance, Dr. Perna said the American economy is growing nonetheless. \u201cWhat we\u2019ve got is a slow recovery that is very uneven,\u201d Dr. Perna said. \u201cGDP is about 12% up from where it was before the recession started. Dow Jones is about 15% up above the peak, but if you look at jobs, still 1% less people employed than 2007, 2008.\u201d Dr. Perna holds a Ph. D. in economics from MIT, and his professional background includes stints with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, General Electric, and the Connecticut National Bank. He interspersed his sometimes somber views on the state\u2019s economic outlook with quirky one-liners and, like any former college professor, ended his presentation exactly on time. One reason for the uneven post-crisis recovery cycle on the macro level, Dr. Perna hypothesized, was stunted growth in Europe \u2014 where many countries still struggle to mitigate economic catastrophe. \u201cThere has been an unusual economic stance going back to 2009,\u201d he said. \u201cIf you add up all the net new stimulus in terms of tax cuts and stimulus spending it amounted to 2.5% of GDP in 2009. But by last year, it went to -1.5% due to the expiration of some tax cuts.\u201d Without justifying the \u201cinfamous\u201d stimulus, Dr. Perna said when an economy goes from a big \u201cplus\u201d to a big \u201cminus,\u201d it shows the economy didn\u2019t get enough lift before \u201cthrottling back.\u201d \u201cThis explains why the Fed did what it did,\u201d he said. They put interest rates at 0% in 2008. You can\u2019t go any lower than 0%. The Fed had to engage in quantitative easing trying to drive down the long-term interest rate, to try and help boost the stock market.\u201d This, the Federal Reserved hoped, he said, would cause the rise in stock market and housing economies, helping a country whose congress was in \u201cparalysis.\u201d Regardless of the fact that many conservative voices viewed quantitative easing as an example of government overstepping its bounds, Dr. Perna said its long-term effect will be overall economic growth. \u201cMost economists expect 3% growth next year, which should be enough to generate three million jobs nationally,\u201d he said. The economist also took care to address last year\u2019s calls for a national default on loans issued to the United States. \u201cAnyone who says that we can default without doing incredible damage to the economy doesn\u2019t know what they are talking about,\u201d he said. \u201cIt would be quicker than 2009. Banks would suddenly be belly up. Interest rates would spike, and all fixed-income securities would fall in value. Banks would have negative equity.\u201d In terms of inflation, Dr. Perna agrees with \u201ca lot of conservative Wall Street types,\u201d who predict it to hold steady around 2%. Jobs numbers in Connecticut, Dr. Perna also said, \u201care not great, but they\u2019re not abysmal.\u201d Independent reports \u201csay we\u2019ll get at least another 15,000 jobs this year and 25,000 the next year,\u201d he said. \u201cWe\u2019re still lagging behind the nation, and we still have a way to go to get back to 2007.\u201d He also said it is important that personal income will grow by 6% over the next year, a much quicker growth than the 2% expected of inflation. \u201cAll told, this is not miserable. This is an improvement,\u201d he said.