Wednesday, October 22, 2008

S&P's recession forecast

In the current edition of The Outlook, Standard and Poors presents its forecast for the recession (source offline; no link available):
The economy will likely suffer a moderate, but long recession, and a sluggish recovery, according to S&P Economics. From the December 2007 peak to a trough in May 2009, this expected 17-month recession would be longer than the 50-year average of 10.7 months, and near the longest recessions of 1975 and 1982. ...

We’re forecasting negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first half of 2009 for a total decline of 0.9%. While business tax credits should likely provide some boost to the fourth quarter, borrowing restrictions will mean that boost will be smaller than we originally thought.

Still, this should be a moderate recession. Unemployment will likely climb to 7.5% by summer 2009 from its March 2007 low of 4.4%. The S&P 500 dropped nearly 40% through October 10, near the historical average decline of 36% during a recession. As stock prices normally lead the economy by three to six months, they should bottom in the fourth quarter.

The Fed chopped the Fed Funds rate to 1.5% from 5.25% last September. We expect the central bank to remain on hold until the recession is over before raising rates in the fall of 2009. The 10-year Treasury yield dropped to 3.8% from a peak of 4.5% last summer. However, the cost of funds for businesses and individuals has risen due to the credit crunch.

The fiscal stimulus package will likely bring the fiscal 2008 federal deficit slightly above the 2004 record of $413 billion. We expect the record to easily be broken next year, with a deficit exceeding $700 billion, depending on how the Troubled Asset Relief Plan is treated.
They also project a 30% average drop in home prices, peak to trough.

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