The Beatles ballad "The Long and Winding Road" may serve as an apt theme song to a world economic recovery that, with the exception of emerging economies, will take baby steps over the next five years, according to TD's chief economist.
Craig Alexander, senior vice president and chief economist at TD Bank Financial Group, described today's world economy as a tale of two recoveries, with emerging economies led by China forecasted to sustain continued steady growth, while highly developed economies -- including the U.S. and Europe -- are recovering at a snail's pace with low single-digit economic growth projected for the next few years.
Alexander offered his worldwide economic prognosis during a session entitled Investing in Uncertain Economic Times at the Financial Planning Association Conference in San Diego last week.
Alexander predicted that the European economy could fall into a fiscal recession by year's end with some countries such as Greece and Spain edging closer toward default. He predicts debt restructuring in Europe. In contrast, Alexander says the U.S. economy is not currently at risk of a fiscal default. "I can't stress enough that America is not Europe, which is insolvent," Alexander said. "The U.S. does not face a fiscal crisis."
Alexander also predicted that addressing the country's sluggish economy will not come until after the 2012 presidential election. "The (political) parties have positioned themselves to do nothing leading up to the election," he said.
Alexander downplayed the recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating by Standard & Poor's, and described the stock market tailspin that followed it as an "over reaction by the stock market."
Alexander pointed to Nov. 23, the deadline where Congress and the White House must agree and ratify a budget deficit reduction plan, or set off automatic budget reduction cuts with approximately 50% coming from the military.
Alexander doubts that the two sides will reach an agreement.
Alexander also noted that credit agencies S&P and Moody's have hinted that they may have to adjust the U.S. credit rating again if Congress and the White House do not agree upon budget cuts and the country's debt ceiling.
Alexander said the widely held expectation by many fiscal experts is that the U.S. economy would pick up in the second half of the year. However, he cited a continued sluggish real estate market as the prime reason for the country's continued stalled economy that will persist through the end of 2011.