For such a notably optimistic industry, last week’s Quick Poll drew some pretty dour and dire responses. Some 63% of our polltakers said to expect a recession while only 37% said we’d miss it. Commentator Robert Bach, SVP and chief economist for Grubb & Ellis, has in recent weeks, frankly given a bit more ground to the probability of a recession–but not so much that he’s willing, as he says, to throw in the towel. Here’s why:

“The results don’t surprise me, but if you had taken that poll two weeks ago, it would have been 50/50 and three weeks ago it would have been 40% thinking there was a recession. There’s been a significant deterioration in sentiment–not just our industry but across the economy–just since the first of the year. There’s been a steady drumbeat in the news and a constant stream of stories about it. I don’t blame the media but it’s the topic at the top of everyone’s list now. And because of the constant exposure, it seeps into everyone’s mindset.

“The rule of thumb for a recession is two quarters of declining GDP, but the way the business cycle is tracked takes into account employment, income, industrial production and sales. Well, sales and production are kind of flat, but employment and income are perking along. The December employment numbers weren’t good but it’s possible that the January numbers could be stronger.

“I had the honor of moderating a panel that interviewed Alan Greenspan at our national meeting, and that was the first question we asked. He’s been saying for a while that the chances are 50/50. But he stated that the economy is at stall speed, meaning that the economic immune system has been compromised and it won’t take much to tip us over into a recession.

“Goldman Sachs has come out and said they think there’s going to be a recession. Merrill Lynch says they already think there’s a recession, and the parade of analysts who have thrown in the towel is lengthening.

“At the end of the day, who am I to contradict Greenspan? In our forecast book I think we said there’s a 40% to 50% chance of a recession. For the longest time I was telling people it was 49.9%.

“I think now it’s more than 50/50–but maybe only a 50% to 55% chance. It’s been said that economists have predicted nine of the last five recessions. There’s a chance that this could be the 10th. But I’m not ready to throw in the towel.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Dig Deeper



Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.