David Kirkpatrick

February 24, 2009

Economic predictions for 2009 and 2010

I’ve heard all manner of speculation since the financial crisis came to full boil last fall. First was we’ll know nothing good or bad until May or June of this year. Right on the heels of that analysis was to completely write-off 2009, ride it out and look for more clarity in 2010. The most recent buzz has been even gloomier, predicting a bad 2009 and an even worse 2010.

If that’s where you stand right now, this survey by the National Association for Business Economics is downright rosy.

(Note: the above link seems to be a little dodgy. If it gives you problems try this instead.)

From the link, first the expected bad news:

The recession is projected to worsen this year. The country stands to lose a sizable chunk of economic activity in 2009 as consumers at home and abroad retrench in the face of persistent economic troubles. And the U.S. unemployment rate _ now at 7.6 percent, the highest in more than 16 years _ is expected hit a peak of 9 percent this year.

That gloomy outlook came from leading forecasters in the latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics to be released Monday. The new estimates are roughly in line with other recent projections, including those released last week by the Federal Reserve.

“The steady drumbeat of weak economic and financial market data have made business economists decidedly more pessimistic on the economic outlook for the next several quarters,” said NABE president Chris Varvares, head of Macroeconomic Advisers.

All told, Varvares and his fellow forecasters now expect the economy to shrink by 1.9 percent this year, a much deeper contraction than the 0.2 percent dip projected in the fall.

If the new forecast is correct, it would mark the first time since 1991 the economy actually contracted over a full year and would be the worst showing since 1982, when the country had suffered through a severe recession.

And then some unexpected — well not good, but certainly better — news:

“A meaningful recovery is not expected to take hold until next year,” said Varvares.

NABE predicts GDP will rebound in 2010, averaging 2.4 percent over the course of the year. The Fed, too, is forecasting that the economy will grow again in 2010_ and will pick up momentum in 2011.

Even so, the Fed is still guarded about any turnaround.

 Update: Maybe not so fast there according to Ben Bernanke:

Mr. Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that the Federal Reserve was doing everything it could to unlock credit markets and ease the financial crisis. But a full recovery, he said, is months, if not years away.

“If actions taken by the administration, the Congress, and the Federal Reserve are successful in restoring some measure of financial stability — and only if that is the case, in my view — there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession will end in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year of recovery,” Mr. Bernanke said.

Major what-ifs included the ramifications of an increasingly global financial crisis, as well as a negative feedback loop as lower confidence translates to worsening market conditions, and vice versa.