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HAVE WE HIT BOTTOM YET?Part 2

Our readers who responded to last week’s Quick Poll believe the US economic glass is more than half full—of more bad news to come. Some 68% of the 709 who have so far responded say “Nope—Still More Pain ahead.” A slim 10%, who responded on the side of “You Bet—And I Think I See Activity,” seem to roam in relatively scarce optimistic circles when it comes to viewpoints on the nation’s economy. Even when added to the 21% who voted for “Yep—But Upside Is Still Far Away,” the combined force of their opinions don’t totalhalf the numbers of those who believe who’ve got a still longer row to hoe before things begin to improve. Douglas Herzbrun is global head of research for CB Richard Ellis Investors in Los Angeles, and in this second of a two-part Commentary on the state of the economy, he provides his view of the recession, pointing out that making a call now on the economic bottom is something best done in the future: Here’s why:

“We won’t know until after the fact if we’re in a recession…I think that’s a high probability that that’s going to happen.

“A lot of economic activity is receding. We’re in an extremely slow period right now at best.

“Our sense is that this is going to be a relatively short recession overall, but it will be different than 2001. The last recession was almost exclusively a businesses spending recession. The segments of the real market downturn were office and the industrial market. The consumer sectors were relatively unscathed during the last turndown. They slowed, but they didn’t enter negative territory. This recession is a consumer spending recession. While it’s certainly affecting business spending, we don’t see a drag on the office and the business sector on the demand side. For one thing we don’t’ have the tech drag that we did the last time. This time we actually see tech as being one of the stronger sectors of the economy.

“In terms of timing, we see this mostly as a first-half of the year event. In the second half, we’re going to see a $400 spread out across 100 mill households—I think it’s a significant stimulus.

“Barring another huge shoe dropping in the financial industry…as soon as there’s any regaining of some general confidence, there’s going to be some return to normalization in the credit market.”

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