Chris Thornberg has been right about just about everything during the recession. The economist from L.A. was certainly among the first to say the housing boom was completely unsustainable - and the inevitable bust would take down chunks of the economy with it. He also was among the first to say the slowdown would turn into a full-fledged recession.
So it was interesting to hear him tell the Sacramento Sierra Chapter of the Appraisal Institute this morning that things aren't as bloody awful as we might imagine.
Make no mistake, it is a recession, and a bad one. But he dismissed talk of another Depression or a total financial Armageddon.
"Whoa, time out - deep, deep breath," said Thornberg, who heads Beacon Economics. "Folks, it's not that bad.
"We're in the midst of what I would call a nasty recession. Like a bad cold, you'll get over it."
Some other comments from the meeting:
Economist Suzanne O'Keefe of Sac State said the job losses in Sacramento should end in August or September. That will ead to "not necessarily job growth, but stabilization," she said. Actual job growth might begin in 2010.
Garrick Brown of Colliers International real estate said the commercial market will continue suffering, with higher vacancies and lower rental rates in all sectors: retail, industrial, office. The office market is being helped by the state, which is still looking for space, although vacancies will rise once the new office tower on Capitol Mall opens.
Greg Paquin of the Gregory Group, the Folsom housing consulting firm, is convinced the US government will do something to curtail foreclosures. His reasoning: Congress isn't going to spend $1 trillion or so to revive the economy and sit quietly while the housing market continues to erode.
More in Saturday's paper.