BBVA Compass: Distressed properties threaten US recovery
The United States is benefiting from positive personal consumption, but economic uncertainty looms because of political uncertainty, the European sovereign debt crisis and a growing housing inventory, a report from BBVA Compass bank said. Further, federal initiatives aimed at improving housing and student finance are expected to fall short of the desired impact. "While some housing data has been better than expected, an increase in distressed properties continues to threaten the market," said Nathaniel Karp, chief U.S. economist for BBVA Compass. "Recent changes to the HARP and Federal Student Loan Program will have a minimal effect on the economy and will not significantly help the labor market." The bank released its fourth-quarter U.S. Economic Outlook report Monday, concluding that "policymakers must take swift action to reduce fiscal uncertainty." Doing so would help buoy investment and employment in the U.S., the report claims. The study comes as Congress reaches an impasse over deficit reductions. The Super Committee now has less than 2 days to agree on $1.5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. "Economic growth is contingent on reducing uncertainty both domestically and globally," said Karp. "The European debt situation continues to introduce volatility in the market and underscores the necessity of getting things in order here in the U.S." BBVA Compass, which is based in Houston, said private-sector hiring has picked up in Sun Belt states and exports continue to drive economic activity. Even though personal consumption in the U.S. boosted the nation's gross domestic product above expectations, Europe's financial issues leave many global economic issues on the table, the bank's report said. Analysts at Toronto-based Capital Economics said the debt crisis overseas has yet to subside. "The yields on government bonds issued by France, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands have risen sharply in recent weeks in a worrying sign that the euro-zone's debt crisis is starting to rot its “core” (with the notable exception of Germany)," according to Capital Economics. "We suspect this process has further to go." Write to Kerri Panchuk.