The Recession Will End…

Most Americans think we’ll be in recession for two more years. According to a new poll from Gallop/USA Today, just as many people think the recession will end in a year as do those who think it will end in five years, with the rest of the respondents falling in the middle.

Could such gloom just be the winter blues? Perhaps, but the findings are similar to those from July:

When asked in an open-ended question how long they expect it to be before the economy starts to recover, 30% now say five years or more, up from 19% in February but similar to the 28% who said so in December. Overall, 68% of Americans now expect it to take two years or more before the economy starts to recover, little changed from 71% in February. One in four (27%) now expect it to take less than two years, about the same as the 24% in February who said this.

Just a few short weeks ago, it felt like we were through the worst of it – jobs seemed to be improving, retail sales were strong, banks were paying back their loans to the government. But then one niggling little issue emerged: the housing market is hardly in good shape.

The big question is when to buy. Prices surged in the summer and early fall, and so did sales, thanks to a government tax credit. That credit is due to expire in April, which, coupled with rising interest rates, could put the market at a standstill. Surely prices may fall, benefiting buyers, but there may be fewer homes on the market. And who wants a mortgage at a higher interest rate – if you even qualify? Banks are becoming more stringent, recommending mortgages be capped at no more than three times one’s annual income, with no less than 20% down…

Okay, so here we are: 2010. According to even the most doomsaying of economists—none less than Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini—this is when things get better.

“I have said on numerous occasions that the recession would last roughly 24 months. Therefore, we are 19 months into that recession. If, as I predicted, the recession is over by the end of the year, it will have lasted 24 months with a recovery only beginning in 2010. Simply put I am not forecasting economic growth before year’s end.” (July 16, 2009, via RGE, Recessionwire)

Whether you agree with Larry Summers that “everybody agrees that the recession is over“…

Americans are buying more holiday gifts this season than last, but that same spirit of generosity has yet to reach most charities. (via Chronicle of Philanthropy)

If a tight job market, pinched portfolio and limited credit have taught us anything this year, it’s that when it comes to spending, it’s time to prioritize. We’re partially surprised that spending on gifts has trumped giving to charities, but it might be worth separating the two data points: Holiday spending reflected a small but growing uptick in Americans’ income, coupled with cutting back that happened all year. Who wouldn’t splurge a little at the holidays?

But when people cut back on giving to philanthropy, that’s something else altogether…

question-mark-chart-150“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.” (via 60 Minutes)

Well, it looks like the recession is back on. Despite comments over the weekend from Larry Summers who said that “everybody agrees that the recession is over,” there’s still that niggling problem of 10 percent unemployment. And outsized bonuses on Wall Street, which only create a further disparity between the rich and everyone else. Populist rage over the bonuses and Obama’s claim that he gives his record so far a “solid b-plus” are a sign that people are mad, and not ready to call an end to the tough times—because they’re still experiencing them…

question-mark-chart-150In November, both the number of unemployed persons, at 15.4 million, and the unemployment rate, at 10.0 percent, edged down. At the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons was 7.5 million, and the jobless rate was 4.9 percent. (via Bureau of Labor Statistics report)

Why it might be false: One positive jobs report is kind of like a diamond in the rough when you look at it against the backdrop of other employment indicators, such as the high number of laid-off workers who don’t see jobs on the horizon; part-time workers are an army of 9.3 million—the highest ever; and the number of people collecting unemployment benefits stands around 10 million. Ten million

question-mark-chart-150Says who: David Silverman, PricewaterhouseCoopers

“While all segments of the media industry have experienced declines, online advertising remains resilient and is once again showing signs of growth.” [via Internet Advertising Bureau report]

question-mark-chart-150We were really disheartened by some of the data in today’s Recession Briefing:

* 23% of homeowners’ properties are underwater
* 13% of parents of adults say one or more of their grown children have moved back in
* 34.5% of black males between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed: these are Great Depression proportions, folks
* 17.5% of people are unemployed, according to U-6 data, which includes discouraged and part-time workers who are looking
* The Small Business Administration has run out of money to back loans issued to small businesses.
* 33,000 people were laid off from from a single employer, the postal service in Russia

Things aren’t great, and maybe even scary. In an interview with, one economist suggested that, “Unless you create another bubble in which the economy can create jobs, then you’re not going to have growth. That’s the sad truth.” As such, Michael Pento, chief economist at Delta Global Advisors, added that he expects more of an L-shaped recovery—prolonged pain with no sudden rebound…

question-mark-chart-150Says who: Sotheby’s head of contemporary art Tobias Meyer in reference to his $43.76 million sale of Andy Warhol’s “200 One Dollar Bills”

“… after a year of not buying … collectors have started buying again … The desire to have great things will make (them) step up and pay more than $40 million for a work of art.” (via Reuters)

Why it might be false: One pricey painting is an uptick, but it doesn’t…

question-mark-chart-150Says who: Mark Zandi of Moody’s

“Small business tends to lead the way out, and that’s just not happening here.” (via USA Today)

Why it might be false: It might be false because we might be due for a slight redefinition of “small business.” In recessions and other periods of some job loss, more businesses tend to be created. Entrepreneurs are energized, and others are just looking for a way to generate some income. In New York, laid off Wall Street executives have been launching companies in part through a Bloomberg-backed incubator funded with $45 million. In the state of Colorado, the number of new business registrations has increased over last year…