May 22nd, 2009
03:44 PM GMT
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A lot has been made about the so called green shoots of recovery. And I'll be the first to admit it's a lot better than being in freefall.

But let's not get too excited here. There's a huge space between being out of freefall and getting to a sustained recovery.

When I think about recovery, I'm not talking about the end of negative growth. To me real recovery is one which growth rates are closer to longer term trends.

Don't get me wrong, the huge improvements we've seen in credit markets since the collapse of Lehman Brothers last September, and the sharp rally in stock markets off their March lows is certainly welcomed.

But my extensive travels over the last few months tell me, that there's still plenty of caution to go around.

I've been at several conferences, and when I ask people whether they feel the the sharp rally in equities is sustainable, many are skeptical and believe the markets at some point could retest their lows.

When I asked a group of chief financial officers and comptrollers when they expect a sustained economic recovery, a third of those who raised their hands believe it won't be until 2012 and beyond. And remember, these are the guys holding the purse strings.

As to the other two-thirds of that group, it was divided between next year and 2011.

I've been taking these informal polls since last November, and I'd say the majority of those I ask, believe any sustained recovery won't happen before 2011.

So what's standing in the way? Plenty. Unemployment in the United States and elsewhere continues to rise, consumers are focused on saving instead of spending, housing and commercial property in the U.S. and elsewhere remain under pressure, and banks continue to deleverage.

Confidence of course, is key to any recovery. Even once we get out of negative growth I fear we could bump along the bottom for a quite a while. I am not alone in this fear. I hope I am wrong, but I suspect I will turn out to be right.

 What do you think?

May 22nd, 2009
01:44 PM GMT
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May 22nd, 2009
09:32 AM GMT
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