Stocks rallied Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested the central bank would go ahead with another round of stimulus -- aka quantitative easing -- if the economy continues to slump. In this scenario, the Federal Reserve would once again purchase assets to keep interest rates low in an attempt to support the economy and prop up asset prices.
So far, the Fed's actions have done more good for asset prices like stocks (see: S&P 500 chart since 2009) while doing less to help the economy (see: June jobs report). U.S. gross domestic product grew just 1.9% in the first quarter of the year. For 2011 as a whole, the Fed forecasts U.S. GDP growing at 2.7% to 2.9%, which is lower than the plus 3% forecast they made in April.
Today's guest, Gary Shilling, President of A. Gary Shilling & Co. and author of the Age of Deleveraging says another recession is brewing -- no matter what action the Fed takes. "Economic growth here and abroad is slipping, making a 2012 recession a distinct possibility," he writes in his July newsletter. And, "when you have slow growth it doesn't take much of a shock to throw you in negative territory."
Shilling says the shock to trigger the next recess is "another big leg-down in housing." (An asset class the Fed has not been able to reflate.) As those familiar with Shilling know, his forecasts are generally bearish. However, in his defense, Shilling was one of the few economists who correctly predicted the dangers of the subprime mortgage market and its impact on the broader economy.
The problem with the real estate market remains excess inventory. Based on Shilling's research, there are 2 million to 2.5 million excess homes in the country -- a supply that will take 4-5 years to work-off. The result: Housing prices will fall another 20% and underwater mortgages will balloon from 23% to 40%, he says.
With housing slumping again, Shilling says recession is coming to a town near you in 2012.