Brian Wesbury Is Clueless

Sentiment Analysis

Brian Wesbury, Chief Economist at First Trust Advisors and a regular on CNBC, especially The Kudlow Report, has a piece up at Forbes today titled: “The Recession Is Over”:

Now it looks like our V-shaped recovery is underway.  When the NBER eventually gets around to declaring the recession end date, we think it will be May 2009.

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In our view, there are no more shoes to drop.

Wesbury is notable mainly for his ability to get everything wrong.  Usually, even bad forecasters get something right, even if it is by accident.  Not Wesbury. 

Here are some excerpts from an editorial he wrote for The Wall Street Journal on January 28, 2008 titled “The Economy Is Fine (Really)” (subscription required):

It is hard to imagine any time in history when such rampant pessimism about the economy has existed with so little evidence of serious trouble.

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With housing so weak, the recent softness in production and durable goods orders is understandable.  But housing is now a small share of GDP (4.5%).  And it has fallen so much already that it is highly unlikely to drive the economy into recession all by itself.  Exports are 12% of the economy, and are growing at a 13.6% rate. The boom in exports is overwhelming the loss from housing.

…….

Models based on recent monetary and tax policy suggest real GDP will grow at a 3% to 3.5% rate in 2008, while the probability of recession this year is 10%.

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Yet many believe that a recession has already begun because credit markets have seized up.  This pessimistic view argues that losses from the subprime arena are the tip of the iceberg.  An economic downturn, combined with a weakened financial system, will result in a perfect storm for the multi-trillion dollar derivatives market.  It is feared that cascading problems with inter-connected counterparty risk, swaps and excessive leverage will cause the entire “house of cards,” otherwise known as the U.S. financial system, to collapse.  At a minimum, they fear credit will contract, causing a major economic slowdown.

For many, this catastrophic outlook brings back memories of the Great Depression, when bank failures begot more bank failures, money was scarce, credit was impossible to obtain, and economic problems spread like wildfire.

This outlook is both perplexing and worrisome.  Perplexing, because it is hard to see how a campfire of a problem can spread to burn down the entire forest.  What Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently estimated as a $100 billion loss on subprime loans would represent only 0.1% of the $100 trillion in combined assets of all U.S. households and U.S. non-farm, non-financial corporations.  Even if losses ballooned to $300 billion, it would represent less than 0.3% of total U.S. assets.

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Because all debt rests on a foundation of real economic activity, and the real economy is still resilient, the current red alert about a crashing house of cards looks like another false alarm…… Dow 15,000 looks much more likely than Dow 10,000.  Keep the faith and stay invested.  It’s a wonderful buying opportunity.

He has no credibility and no shame.  I don’t dislike Brian Wesbury as he seems like a nice guy.  But he should be held accountable for getting everything wrong.  And nobody should pay any heed to his forecasts.

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