Monday, August 02, 2010

Greenspan Says Decline in U.S. Home Prices Might Bring Return of Recession

Over the weekend former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” to discuss the economy and housing market. He asserted that the slowing recovery felt like a “quasi-recession” and that the economy might have more problems if home prices decline.

Slowing economic growth, and a decline in housing activity following the expiration of a government tax credit, have raised fears that the economy could return to a recession before completing its recovery from the worst downturn since the 1930s.

The former U.S. central bank chairman said that most economists expect “a small dip” in home prices. The National Association of Realtors reported that the pace of home sales fell in June for a second month. Homes are selling at an annual rate of 5.37 million, and the group’s chief economist Lawrence Yun said transactions will be “very low” in coming months.

“If home prices stay stable, then I think we will skirt the worst of the housing problem,” Greenspan said. “But right under this current price level, mainly 5, 7 or 8 percent below, is a very large block of mortgages, which are under water, so to speak, or could be under water. And that would induce a major increase in foreclosures, foreclosures would feed on the weakness in prices, and it would create a problem.”

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