Schwab's Sonders is 'most optimistic' in 2 years about US economy

Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, says she is "optimistic" and "more comfortable" with her outlook about the U.S. economy.

In fact, Sonders is "the most optimistic about the economy" she has been in two years, she said in an e-mail.

Sonders has been warning folks about housing since the late summer of 2006 and waving "recession warning flags" since mid-2007. "The economy has turned and . . . we may already be out of the recession," she said.

Here are more of Sonders' comments from a Charles Schwab press briefing with reporters:

Q: How do you feel about the economy?
"We've been pessimistic on the economy and housing for several years now. I'm feeling much more more comfortable about the outlook. It's nice to have a little bit more of an optimistic feeling. It has not been fun. I'm a natural optimist. There's a lot of things to feel constructive about right now. "

Q: Is the U.S. economic recession over?
"My conclusion is that I think there is some chance, it may not be more than a slim chance, but some chance that we may actually already be out of the recession. That's clearly a non-consensus view, but I don't mind that."
The average span between when recessions have ended and when the the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) comes out and tells us is 15 months. Certainly, one of our messages to investors is that if you're sitting on the sidelines waiting for the bureau to announce the end, we're probably closer to the next recession than to a bear market. Keep that in mind."

Q: So, no depression?
"Money supply has been the primary driver of the initial turn to the leading economic indicators. We're seeing an unprecedented growth of the money supply. And to me it's the biggest differentiation between this environment and what we saw during the Great Depression. We were never a believer that we were entering into that kind of environment." That has "a lot to do with the policy efforts, particularly by the Federal Reserve (and their) understanding the need to really juice money supply here."

Q: Are you worried about inflation?
"I don't think we have much, if any, inflation risk in the near term. Even with all of this liquidity."

Q: Are U.S. consumers feeling any better about the economy?
"Consumer expectations have improved dramatically. People still not feeling fabulous about their current situation, have started to view the next six-moths out as getting better."

To see more about Sonders' take on the U.S. recession and her outlook, check out her market comment from May 4, 2009.

Anthony Massucci is a senior writer and columnist at DailyFinance.

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