Goldman economist sees signs of US gloom lifting Wed Apr 1, 2009 9:11pm EDT Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page[-] Text [+] Market News Nikkei climbs on U.S. economy hopes and yen Wall Street rallies on manufacturing and homes data Oil falls over $1 as U.S. inventories rise | Video More Business & Investing News... CHICAGO, April 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is showing the first signs in months that it could be getting ready to crawl out of a long recession, the top economist at Goldman Sachs GS.N said on Wednesday.
Jim O'Neill, Goldman's head of global economic research, said among key leading indicators, the measure of "new orders less inventories," derived from the Institute for Supply Management March factory report was a bright light.
That data point is included in Goldman's monthly "Global Leading Indicators" index.
At +9 in March, against -0.7 in February, it was "the best sign for a few months that the severity of the U.S. recession might be easing," O'Neill said while giving a presentation to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Goldman Sachs' current forecast is for the U.S. economy to shrink by 1.3 percent in 2009 before growing by 2.8 percent in 2010.
O'Neill said he looked for the Federal Reserve to keep up its "aggressive" measures to turn around financial conditions damaged by the credit crisis that started in 2007.
"And I think if those things don't work, they will do more," he said, quipping that the moves could include "hiring the helicopters and dropping money from the sky."
China last month proposed a sweeping overhaul in the global monetary system, suggesting the U.S. dollar could eventually be replaced as the world's main reserve currency by the IMF's Special Drawing Right.
O'Neill, acknowledged as one of the world's top currency analysts, said such a "radical shift in the role of the dollar" was not "close."
China's idea will be most interesting if it is paired with more flexibility in the rate of its currency, the renminbi, O'Neill said. "If it isn't, it's not of much use at all."