It must be getting lonely for them, especially after the dismal U.S. employment report for February. The UCLA Anderson Forecast, which is out this morning with its latest projections, keeps holding firm: No recession. It's a shaky prediction that's based on two main factors: One is the expectation that consumer spending will not collapse because of the housing crunch. And two is the fact that people are not losing their homes because they lost their jobs, but rather because their homes are now worth less than what they had paid for them. Big difference. But Ed Leamer, director of the forecast, says that the drumbeat of bad news runs the risk of causing what he calls a "recession depression." And that could take on a life of its own.
If you are in the business of selling the shadow, it's easy to become convinced that the shadow is the real thing. It's not, but it could become the real thing. If the shadow causes recession depression and consumers spend time in their beds instead of in the malls, that's the real world, of course. Then recession depression turns into recession reality.
As for Southern California, thereís no question that the loss of construction and financial services jobs have taken their toll. But itís still not as bad as what happened in the early 1990s when several hundred thousand jobs disappeared and a number of the big aerospace companies merged and moved out of state. This time around, youíre dealing with a diversified economy that has industries generally less vulnerable to a recession (entertainment, public works, health care, even some manufacturing). And donít forget that much of L.A. has more established residential areas with less exposure to the sour real estate market.