Friday, January 03, 2014

Bernanke: The Federal Reserve: Looking Back, Looking Forward

by Bill McBride on 1/03/2014 02:40:00 PM

From Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke: The Federal Reserve: Looking Back, Looking Forward. On the economy:

I have discussed the factors that have held back the recovery, not only to better understand the recent past but also to think about the economy's prospects. The encouraging news is that the headwinds I have mentioned may now be abating. Near-term fiscal policy at the federal level remains restrictive, but the degree of restraint on economic growth seems likely to lessen somewhat in 2014 and even more so in 2015; meanwhile, the budgetary situations of state and local governments have improved, reducing the need for further sharp cuts. The aftereffects of the housing bust also appear to have waned. For example, notwithstanding the effects of somewhat higher mortgage rates, house prices have rebounded, with one consequence being that the number of homeowners with "underwater" mortgages has dropped significantly, as have foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies. Household balance sheets have strengthened considerably, with wealth and income rising and the household debt-service burden at its lowest level in decades. Partly as a result of households' improved finances, lending standards to households are showing signs of easing, though potential mortgage borrowers still face impediments. Businesses, especially larger ones, are also in good financial shape. The combination of financial healing, greater balance in the housing market, less fiscal restraint, and, of course, continued monetary policy accommodation bodes well for U.S. economic growth in coming quarters. But, of course, if the experience of the past few years teaches us anything, it is that we should be cautious in our forecasts.
emphasis added
CR Note: This fits my current view - and I hope Bernanke is correct!