Who are you going to believe?
On story claims that the US is possibly in for a recession…
So says a professor of Economics at Yale:
Losses arising from America’s housing recession could triple over the next few years and they represent the greatest threat to growth in the United States, one of the world’s leading economists has told The Times.
Robert Shiller, Professor of Economics at Yale University, predicted that there was a very real possibility that the US would be plunged into a Japan-style slump, with house prices declining for years.
Professor Shiller, co-founder of the respected S&P Case/Shiller house-price index, said: “American real estate values have already lost around $1 trillion [£503 billion]. That could easily increase threefold over the next few years. This is a much bigger issue than sub-prime. We are talking trillions of dollars’ worth of losses.”
He said that US futures markets had priced in further declines in house prices in the short term, with contracts on the S&P Shiller index pointing to decreases of up to 14 per cent.
“Over the next five years, the futures contracts are pointing to losses of around 35 per cent in some areas, such as Florida, California and Las Vegas. There is a good chance that this housing recession will go on for years,” he said.
Professor Shiller, author of Irrational Exuberance, a phrase later used by Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said: “This is a classic bubble scenario. A few years ago house prices got very high, pushed up because of investor expectations. Americans have fuelled the myth that prices would never fall, that values could only go up. People believed the story. Now there is a very real chance of a big recession.”
On the other hand we have the buoyant Larry Kudlow, enthusing about 2007 and looking forward to 2008:
At his year-end news conference, President Bush stated with optimism that the economy is fundamentally sound, despite the housing downturn and the sub-prime credit crunch. The very next day, that optimism was reinforced with news of the best consumer spending in two years. The prophets of recessionary doom, such as former Fed chair Alan Greenspan, Republican advisor Martin Feldstein, ex-Democratic Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, and bond-maven Bill Gross have been proven wrong once again.
Calendar year 2007 looks set to produce 3 percent growth in real GDP, nearly 3 percent growth in consumer spending, and over 3 percent growth in after-tax inflation-adjusted incomes. Meanwhile, headline inflation (including food and energy) will have run at 2.5 percent, with only 2 percent core inflation.
Jobs are rising over 100,000 per month and the stock market is set to turn in a respectable year despite enormous headwinds. Low tax rates, modest inflation, and declining interest rates continue to boost Goldilocks, which is still the greatest story never told.
Bush’s optimism is well-earned, in Congress too. He has stopped a lot of bad legislation on higher taxing and spending. He won on S-CHIP and the alternative minimum tax. He mostly prevailed on domestic spending. And he got much of what he wanted on war funding without any pullout dates.
And he’s not yet finished. In the most dramatic statement of his holiday news conference, Bush said he will not stand for the continuing congressional proliferation of pork-barrel earmarks.
“Another thing that’s not responsible is the number of earmarks the Congress included in the massive spending bill,” said Bush. “The bill they just passed includes about 9,800 earmarks. Together with the previously passed defense spending bill, that means Congress has approved about 11,900 earmarks this year. And so I am instructing budget director Jim Nussle to review options for dealing with wasteful spending in the omnibus bill.”
This is huge. The statute of limitations for Republican overspending, over-earmarking, and over-corrupting that caused huge congressional losses in last year’s campaign will not run out until the GOP shows taxpayers that it again can be trusted on the key issues of limited government and lower taxes.
In these matters, Republicans must be holier than the pope. And while President Bush has been doing the Lord’s work with his newfound veto pen, he must continue to wage war on earmarks if the GOP is to cleanse the political memory of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
So which scenario is more likely? Doom and gloom or Sunshine Kudlow? The latter is often optimistic and often correct. The Yale academic is not familiar to me, but on the other hand he is from the Ivory Tower so I tend to distrust his opinion on principle.
Besides, Kudlow’s writing style is much more entertaining.
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