Most economists say the recession has ended, but the pain remains
At least, that's the view of 80 percent of the 52 private economists surveyed by Blue Chip Economic Indicators. They expect gross domestic product to rise at a 3 percent annual rate in the third quarter and a 2.4 percent rate in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters.
But before anyone starts planning a ticker-tape parade, it's important to remember that times will remain tough for many people for some time. Foreclosure filings in August topped 300,0000 for a sixth straight month and unemployment hit a 26-year high of 9.7 percent.
"The foreclosure numbers are largely unemployment related," said Morris A. Davis, a former Federal Reserve Board economist, in an interview with Bloomberg News.. "As long as 15 million Americans are unemployed, record foreclosures will continue."
Indeed, there has been much discussion lately about whether the U.S. is in the midst of a "jobless recovery." New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman argued in July that the economy was headed for such a fate because the $787 billion stimulus plan passed earlier this year was inadequate. Recent data from the Conference Board raised those fears anew.
But economists polled by Blue Chip are betting that things will get better in 2010, with the economy expanding at a 2.4 percent rate compared with the 2.6 percent contraction expected this year. This is the result of companies restocking their inventories as demand begins to pick up in the rest of 2009. Consumer spending is expected to rebound "modestly," giving holiday sales a much-needed boost.