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Monday, November 16, 2009

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at Economic Club of NY

by Calculated Risk on 11/16/2009 12:15:00 PM

Here is a live video of Bernanke at the Economic Club of NY

Here is the CNBC feed.

Prepared Speech: On the Outlook for the Economy and Policy

How the economy will evolve in 2010 and beyond is less certain. On the one hand, those who see further weakness or even a relapse into recession next year point out that some of the sources of the recent pickup--including a reduced pace of inventory liquidation and limited-time policies such as the "cash for clunkers" program--are likely to provide only temporary support to the economy. On the other hand, those who are more optimistic point to indications of more fundamental improvements, including strengthening consumer spending outside of autos, a nascent recovery in home construction, continued stabilization in financial conditions, and stronger growth abroad.

My own view is that the recent pickup reflects more than purely temporary factors and that continued growth next year is likely. However, some important headwinds--in particular, constrained bank lending and a weak job market--likely will prevent the expansion from being as robust as we would hope.
On CRE (added):
Demand for commercial property has dropped as the economy has weakened, leading to significant declines in property values, increased vacancy rates, and falling rents. These poor fundamentals have caused a sharp deterioration in the credit quality of CRE loans on banks' books and of the loans that back commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). Pressures may be particularly acute at smaller regional and community banks that entered the crisis with high concentrations of CRE loans. In response, banks have been reducing their exposure to these loans quite rapidly in recent months. Meanwhile, the market for securitizations backed by these loans remains all but closed. With nearly $500 billion of CRE loans scheduled to mature annually over the next few years, the performance of this sector depends critically on the ability of borrowers to refinance many of those loans. Especially if CMBS financing remains unavailable, banks will face the tough decision of whether to roll over maturing debt or to foreclose.
I expect moderate economic growth to continue next year. Final demand shows signs of strengthening, supported by the broad improvement in financial conditions. Additionally, the beneficial influence of the inventory cycle on production should continue for somewhat longer. Housing faces important problems, including continuing high foreclosure rates, but residential investment should become a small positive for growth next year rather than a significant drag, as has been the case for the past several years. Prospects for nonresidential construction are poor, however, given weak fundamentals and tight financing conditions.
Jobs are likely to remain scarce for some time, keeping households cautious about spending. As the recovery becomes established, however, payrolls should begin to grow again, at a pace that increases over time. Nevertheless, as net gains of roughly 100,000 jobs per month are needed just to absorb new entrants to the labor force, the unemployment rate likely will decline only slowly if economic growth remains moderate, as I expect.