This Recession Is O-vah!: ‘Zombie Bears’ Edition

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

The latest in a crowd of pronouncements that the recession is officially behind us comes from economic analyst Barry Ritholtz, whose book I reviewed a while ago. Ritholtz, one of the most bearish commentators during the downturn, believes that the economy has finally turned a corner (hooray!), but adds that “zombie bears” who have staked their reputations on the idea that we’re stuck in the doldrums won’t acknowledge it.

Now, calling the end of the recession isn’t exactly a new trend. (In fact, I wrote about it more than a year ago.) But Ritholtz may well be right. I, for one, hope he is. And the chorus he’s joining seems to have gotten much louder in the past few months. (If they’re correct, though, why the need for QE2?)

Here’s the thing, however: Even if they are right, Ritholtz and other economists are speaking about the recession in a very narrow, literal sense. When they say it’s over, what they referring to is a return to a sustained period of growth at the macroeconomic level. They aren’t arguing that economic normalcy for consumers is just a few weeks or months ahead, or that we’ll return to full employment soon, or that housing values will shortly ratchet back up to 2005 levels. Most importantly, it doesn’t mean that continued recovery is a sure thing.

What it could mean, though, is that financial institutions, feeling more secure, will start to lend again. Businesses of all sizes could slowly but surely begin hiring again. And consumers who rightfully put the brakes on spending and began saving at a rate not seen in more than a decade may begin to put some of their accumulated capital toward a home purchase.

In short, it might signify that after searching for a floor during these past couple of years, the economy is finally starting to move in the right direction. That’s something we could all be thankful for.

Editor’s Note: Because of the holiday, there will be no Daily News on Thursday or Friday. Happy Thanksgiving from REALTOR® Magazine!

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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  1. Emperor Watcher

    By this type of reasoning, any number of conclusions can be drawn: “The war is over in Iraq.”, “Global warming is a myth.”, or how about “Housing sales are up!”? Give us a break, will you? Examining a micro-aspect of a situation and then declaring a “Cosmic Truth” is what we expect of politicians and their self-serving aspirations. Get it off these pages.

  2. In Sedona AZ the amount of our sold inventory is up over this time last year, and we are now starting to sell homes even in our luxury market (over 750K) . However, prices continue to slide downward with most home buyer’s in the less than 400K priced home. Since Sedona is primarily a second home market – our market is totally tied into consumer confidence. So prices are down and buyer’s are back. Seller’s are walking away from their home much more easier today than a 1 year ago – for they see the loss of equity and no way to refinance their home. Who can blame them? And until the feds put a stop to the foreclosure and short mess – prices will continue to fall, homes will continue to be vacant, and we will become a nation of renters.

  3. I believe our market here in Hawaii is starting to recover with inventory down 15% from this same time last year. Lots of first time homebuyer taking advantage of the low interest rates and affordable home prices. Also our High end market is starting to see sales pick up with two recoreded sales of 23 million and 17 million. Still lending guidelines need to ease up and lenders have to find a solution with their short sale process to make it faster for approval.. Hawaii has always been a place of high demand to buy Real Estate and will continue to retain value as it always did.