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Bermuda declares six-year recession over

Published:Wednesday | June 10, 2015 | 7:16 PM

Finance Minister Bob Richards says Bermuda's long recession is over but has cautioned that the "embryonic recovery" needs to be nurtured.

He said recent consecutive increases in the retail sales index pointed to the slump having bottomed out.

"It's been a long, tough road. We have a lot of stats that are put out by government, but I believe the stats that are most important are the retail sales," said Richards. "Bermuda is a pretty simple economy - not a lot of sectors, no manufacturing - so retail sales tells a bigger story than most of the statistical series."

Richards was one of the guest speakers at the Bermuda Captive Conference, which is taking place at the Fairmont Southampton resort this week.

He spoke during a roundtable discussion on market and business trends worldwide, together with Bermuda Monetary Authority CEO Jeremy Cox; Brad Keating, president of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers; and Robert Vermes, CEO and founder of Captive Advantage LLC and president of the Bermuda Captive Owners Association.

"The breakdown in retail sales has been uneven - we would expect that - but it's an indication of a lot of things going on. Ultimately, the drivers of the Bermuda economy are progressing, but under a headwind," said Richards.

He said outside factors, such as mergers and acquisitions in the insurance and reinsurance sector, had impacted the number of jobs on the island, while Bermuda still had to turn around the tourism market.

"I believe we have identified the factors responsible for this decline and we are addressing them," he said.