Recent commentary by Paul Ferrell at Marketwatch caught our eye this Monday, not only because it got us humming a great old song, but also because it takes a wide look at how the current credit crunch is likely to play out of the next 12 months. Scratch that. Make it closer to 48 months, Ferrell says:
This year's elections will be a huge factor in lengthening the recession. Our lame-duck government will delay action on critical issues. It reminds me of my days counseling addicts and alcoholics. Change never happens until they admit they have a problem. Same here. Paulson and Bernanke cannot admit there's a recession. They'd have to take blame for America's failed policies. And congressional Democrats are weak co-conspirators in this meltdown. Nobody has the guts to take responsibility. They're all like addicts and alcoholics, in denial, giving lip-service to "change," while they blame the other guys and support ineffectual stimulus plans. Vote for whomever, but this lame-duck mindset plus lingering partisan rancor will push any recovery at least into 2009, probably delay the next bull till 2010 or 2011.
Between stagflation and a housing slide with stronger legs than anyone in the business ever thought possible (except for those of us at HW, of course), it's clear that we've got some problems that need fixing. Ferrell suggests that housing really was just the tipping point, and that a financial system beset with debt, hidden derivatives, and good old American greed will be the real reason we should all be heading for the hills. Time will tell if he's right, but we know this much: housing won't be getting better soon, despite what we'd like to see happen.