‘Intense Recession’ Through Spring say Analysts

An “intense recession” is likely through the spring, The Conference Board, a non-profit organization which makes economic-based forecasts and assesses trends, said Monday, citing its index of leading economic indicators. The index is designed to forecast economic activity six to nine months ahead. In November, the index fell 0.4 percent. In December, leading economic indicators (LEI) actually rose 0.3 percent, mainly due to the continued injections of cash into the money supply by the Federal Reserve. The yield spread also contributed positively to the index, helping to offset unemployment claims and the ongoing decline in building permits. But December’s LEI was still 5 percent lower than its most recent peak in July 2007, and it would have been much weaker without the massive expansion in inflation-adjusted money supply in the last four months, the Board said. The Board’s Coincident Economic index has also been deteriorating, and the decrease in this index over the past six months is the largest since 1980. “Taken together, the recent behavior of the composite economic indexes suggests that the recession that began in December 2007 will continue in the near term,” the report said. “Expect declines in output and employment over the next several quarters, with unemployment possibly rising to 9 percent,” said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board. As for the money supply, it has been on the rise for months as the Federal Reserve has taken “extraordinary” measures in at attempt to unfreeze the credit markets, Goldstein said. “Clearly they are printing money as fast as they can,” he said. “The fear is that printing so much money will lead to inflation,” but he noted there are other things to worry about as well. It’s Your Turn Here at HousingWire, we thought it’s about time we turn the mic over to our readers to see what industry players and participants are predicting about the direction the year will go, as economists and analysts have had their fair share of input. Put on your sorcerer’s hats and get out those crystal globes for a moment to look into the future and predict what the “theme” will be for 2009. This time next year, what will be the thing that we look back on as having defined 2009 and why? Will it be “refinance frenzy,” “Buy! Buy! Buy!” or “Bye, bye, 401-K”? We’ll pick the best entries to appear in the March issue of HousingWire. Click here to complete the survey and be included in the next print issue. Be as detailed as you’d like, but be sure to include your name, city and e-mail address for inclusion. Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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