From San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen: The Outlook for the Economy and Housing. Excerpts:

… I’m not at all convinced that a V-shaped recovery is in the cards. That fourth-quarter leap in GDP overstates the underlying momentum of the economy. Much of it was due to a slowdown in the pace at which businesses were drawing down inventory stocks compared with earlier in the year. Less than half of the fourth-quarter growth reflected higher sales to customers. Those sales did grow, but at a lackluster 2.2 percent. It appears that businesses are getting their inventories closer in line with sales, which is a good thing. But such inventory adjustments can be a potent source of growth only for a few quarters. I’d feel much more confident about the prospect for a sustained robust recovery if I saw evidence of more vigorous growth in actual sales.

… my business contacts tell me the consumer mindset is still in a fragile state. Clearly, the big weight hanging over everyone’s heads is jobs. …

The housing sector appears to have stabilized, but here too I don’t see any signs of a sharp turnaround. New home sales and construction finally stopped falling last year and have been reasonably stable, albeit at very low levels, for several months. Existing home sales surged late last year in response to the homebuyer tax credit. But, the credit expires this spring, so this source of support won’t be around much longer. The housing sector has also been benefiting from the Fed’s policy of buying mortgage-backed securities. These purchases appear to have helped keep home finance rates low. But, the Fed is now in the process of tapering off these purchases and plans to stop them at the end of March. As support from Federal Reserve and other government programs phases out, there is a risk that the housing market could weaken again.

Put it all together and you have a recipe for a moderate rate of economic growth, well below the spritely pace set in the fourth quarter. The current quarter appears on course to post growth of around 3 percent. I see the economy gradually picking up steam over the remainder of this year as households and businesses regain confidence, financial conditions improve, and banks increase the supply of credit. I expect growth of about 3½ percent for the year as a whole, picking up to about 4½ percent next year, with private demand coming on line to pick up the slack as government stimulus programs fade away.

This brings us to a subject that is of paramount concern to all of us—the job situation. This recession has been very severe, indeed. The U.S. economy has shed 8.4 million jobs since December 2007. That’s more than a 6 percent drop in payrolls, the largest percentage point decline since the demobilization following World War II. The unemployment rate, which was 5 percent at the start of the recession, rose to around 10 percent in late 2009. The rates of job openings and hiring are also stuck at very low levels. These statistics represent a tragedy for our country, our communities, and each of the families and individuals who have had to cope with a loss of livelihood.

There is a glimmer of good news on the employment front. The pace of job losses has slowed dramatically and some indicators, such as gains in temporary jobs, suggest that we may be close to a turnaround in the labor market. I was encouraged to see the unemployment rate drop from 10 percent to 9.7 percent in January. Nonetheless, given my forecast of moderate growth and a shrinking, but still sizable, output gap, I expect unemployment to remain painfully high for years. The rate should edge down from its current level to about 9¼ percent by the end of this year and still be about 8 percent by the end of 2011, a far cry from full employment.

Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford
EXPERIENCE

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs



In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.



HISTORY

For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.

AREAS COVERED

Back Bay

Beacon Hill

Charles River Park

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Contact
John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.




John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114

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