Paulson: Housing, Capital Markets Woes Not Over Yet

If woes in the capital markets and housing have some investors facing wear-out, it may be time to take a break from the market altogether and polish up on some golfing or tennis skills: at least, that’s the message sent by U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson on Monday. In remarks delivered in Abu Dhabi Monday, Paulson signaled that while he expects the U.S. economy to weather “a rough period,” a “trio of headwinds” remain to counter any near-term economic recovery. That trio? Housing, capital markets, and energy prices. “We expect to be working through housing and capital markets issues for some time,” he cautioned in his speech to the U.S.-United Arab Emirates Business Council. While the capital and credit markets are calmer now than earlier in the year, he said, “de-leveraging and re-pricing of risk continue, as does the capital-raising that is so essential for U.S. financial institutions to continue to support the broader economy.” “A number of our important credit markets are still not functioning as normal and we should expect some bumps in the road ahead.” Let us count the ways: a frozen secondary market for private-party mortgages, an essentially non-existent market for CDOs of ABS, a CDS market that has been wobbling on its axis for roughly a quarter, and the giant whooshing sound that has resulted from investors rushing out of the auction-rate securities market. Bloomberg News suggested that Paulson may have tempered his remarks in order to reassure his audience that investing in U.S. businesses right now is a good bet:

Middle East countries have accumulated $4 trillion to invest because of record oil prices, consulting firm A.T. Kearney said in a May 26 report. The region accounted for about half of the $3.3 trillion of the assets in the world’s sovereign wealth funds last year, the report said. That includes the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the largest of the funds.

“Whatever our current difficulties, I wouldn’t bet against the U.S. worker or the U.S. economy,” Paulson said.

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