The National Association for Business Economists surveys experts to see how many believe that the recession is over, how many think it will end later this year, and what number believe there will be no recovery until 2010. Its latest quarterly survey shows, once again, that economists cannot be counted on for consistency.
One expert involved in compiling the recent survey said the poll "provides new evidence that the U.S. recession is abating, but few signs of an immediate recovery," according to the Associated Press. That leaves open the issue of what the term "immediate" means. The economists questioned in this latest piece of research expect unemployment to begin to improve later next year.
Most analysts believe that improvements in joblessness come after GDP improvement begins, which makes it a "lagging indicator." The skittishness about a recovery from the current recession may stem from the concerns that unemployment is so pervasive that the notion of a "jobless recovery" is no longer compelling.
So many people may be out of work that a rebound of consumer and business demand, the early hallmarks of a recovery, are improbable. Businesses may remain too wounded to increase spending. Consumers, even those with jobs, may refuse to be consumers because they want to pay down current debt and begin saving for an uncertain future.
Economists are waffling on the near-term recovery because they cannot find very many causes for it to happen.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.