Yesterday, at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Mike Mussa and I discussed – and debated – the likely shape of the US and global economic recovery. Mike has great experience and an outstanding track record as an economic forecaster. His view is that the entire post-war experience of the US indicates there will be a sharp rebound. Victor Zarnowitz apparently stressed to Mike, a long time ago, “deep recessions are almost always followed by steep recoveries.”
I completely accept the idea that a slow or L-shaped recovery for the US and at the global level would be something outside the realm of experience over the past 50 years. I would also suggest that the financial crisis in fall 2008, the speed of decline in the US, and the synchronicity of the slowndown around the world over the past 6 months has also surprised everyone (including most officials) who think that we are always destined to re-run some version of the post-1945 data. Continue reading
Posted in Commentary
Baseline Scenario for 4/7/2009 (9am): Post-G20 Edition
Peter Boone, Simon Johnson, and James Kwak, copyright of the authors.
This long-overdue (and hopefully widely-awaited) version of our Baseline Scenario focuses largely on the United States, both because of the volume of activity in the U.S. in the last two months, and also because the U.S. will almost certainly have to be at the forefront of any global economic recovery, especially given the wait-and-see attitude prevalent in Europe.
Global Economic Outlook
The global economy remains weak across the board, with no significant signs of improvement since our last baseline. The one positive sign is that some forecasters are beginning to recognize that growth in 2010 is not a foregone conclusion. The OECD, for example, now forecasts contraction of 4.3% in 2009 for the OECD area as a whole – and 0.1% contraction in 2010. This is broadly with our previous “L-shaped” recovery view.
Even that forecast, however, expects quarter-over-quarter growth rates to be positive beginning in Q1 2010. (This is not a contradiction: if growth is sharply negative in early 2009, then quarterly rates can be positive throughout 2010, without total output for 2010 reaching average 2009 levels.) While most forecasters expect positive growth in most parts of the world in 2010, those forecasts seem to reflect expected reversion to the mean rather than any identified mechanism for economic recovery. The underlying assumption is that at some point economic weakness becomes its own cure, as falling prices finally prompt consumers to consume and businesses to invest. But given the unprecedented nature of the current situation, it seems by no means certain that that assumption will hold. In particular, with demand low around the globe, the typical mechanism by which an isolated country in recession can recover – exports – cannot work for everyone.
Posted in Baseline