Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggests to George Stephanopoulos that "there's been a very significant improvement in the financial system... where the problems have been," and that as far as the retracting economy: "I'm pretty sure we've already seen the bottom... Collapse is now off the table."
"The state of confidence in the economy is beginning to pick up," he suggests.
Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The most severe recession in at least five decades may be ending and growth may resume at a rate faster than most economists foresee, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.
“We may very well have 2.5 percent in the current quarter,” Greenspan said in an interview today on ABC’s “This Week” program. “The reason is there has been such an extraordinarily high rate of inventory liquidation that the production levels are well under consumption.”
The U.S. economy contracted at a better-than-forecast 1 percent annual pace in the second quarter, the Commerce Department reported July 31. Stabilization of housing markets and consumer spending, a lessening of financial turmoil and increased government spending all suggest the longest recession since the 1930s may be close to ending.
“I’m short-term optimistic, but with many caveats,” the former Fed chairman said. Housing markets have “stabilized temporarily” though it is “possible” the economy might relapse if there is a further slide in home prices of more than about 5 percent.
‘Close to Stabilization’
“I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I do think it is possible that we could get a second wave down,” he said. “But the important issue is that if we don’t, and I think the probability is that we won’t, that we are close to stabilization.”
Economic growth will average 1 percent in the current quarter, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists in July.
“I’m pretty sure we’ve already seen the bottom,” Greenspan said. “In fact, if you look at the weekly production figures for various different industries, it’s clear that we’ve turned, perhaps in the middle of last month, the middle of July.”
He predicted “the unemployment rate is going to continue to rise, but more slowly than it’s been. We’ll continue to have job loss, but that’s slowing as well.”
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke projected a week ago the U.S. unemployment rate will top 10 percent, up from 9.5 percent in June, even as the economy recovers. Growth of about 1 percent is likely in the second half of the year, Bernanke said at a town- hall-style meeting.