Maybe it's easy for economist Sung Won Sohn to be optimistic about the recession coming to a close. Sohn, who's been tracking the California economy for years, has a second job, as vice chairman of the Forever 21 clothing chain, one of the few retail success stories out there.
Dropping by the Bee this week, the Korean American economist noted that Forever 21 is dipping into the Asian market with a just-opened store in Japan. He said his job with Forever 21 "gives me a very good window into what's happening with the consumers."
His view: While the economy is still in sad shape, a Depression has been averted and things should start improving sometime next year. Easy money policies by the Fed are helping. The financial markets have stabilized. The federal stimulus plan hasn't flooded the economy with cash yet, but it did create a psychological boost and will start to boost the economy significantly in 2010.
Problems still abound, he said. Unemployment will keep rising well into next year. The credit markets are still somewhat frozen, though not as badly as they were. Commercial real estate is just starting to run into serious headwinds. The spring rally in the stock market probably created more optimism than was truly justified.
"We're doing better but we're not out of the woods yet," he said.
Right on cue, the stock market shot up sharply this morning, thanks in part to a solid earnings report and forecast from Intel Corp.