Morgan Stanley Issues "Full Recession Alert" for the US Economy!!
Morgan Stanley has issued a full recession alert for the US economy, warning of a sharp slowdown in business investment and a “perfect storm” for consumers as the housing slump spreads.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke will be hoping he can keep the US economy from recession
In a report “Recession Coming” released today, the bank’s US team said the credit crunch had started to inflict serious damage on US companies.
“Slipping sales and tightening credit are pushing companies into liquidation mode, especially in motor vehicles,” it said.
“Three-month dollar Libor spreads have jumped by 60 to 80 basis points over the last month. High yield spreads have widened even more significantly. The absolute cost of borrowing is higher than in June.”
“As delinquencies and defaults soar, lenders are tightening credit for commercial, credit card and auto lending, as well as for all mortgage borrowers,” said the report, written by the bank’s chief US economist Dick Berner. He said the foreclosure rate on residential mortgages had reached a 19-year high of 5.59pc in the third quarter while the glut of unsold properties would lead to a 40pc crash in housing construction.
“We think overall housing starts will run below one million units in each of the next two years — a level not seen in the history of the modern data since 1959,” he said.
Although the US job market has apparently held up well, an average monthly fall of 138,000 in the number of self-employed workers over the last quarter suggests it may now be buckling. “Consumers face what could be a perfect storm,” said Mr Berner.
The partial freeze on subprime mortgage rates announced last week by US treasury secretary Hank Paulson may help cushion the blow for some banks, but it could equally backfire by adding a “risk premium” that drives even more lenders out of the mortgage market.
Like Goldman Sachs, and Lehman Brothers, the bank no longer believes Asia and Europe will come to the rescue as America slows.
It has slashed its 2008 growth forecast for Japan from 1.9pc to 0.9pc, and warned that credit stress will weigh heavily on the eurozone.
Mr Berner said US demand is likely to contract by 1pc each quarter for the first nine months of 2008, but the picture could be far worse if the Federal Reserve fails to slash rates fast enough. It is betting on a quarter point cut this week, with three more cuts by the middle of next year. “We expect the Fed to insure against the worst outcome,” he said.
Morgan Stanley is the first major Wall Street bank to warn that it is may now be too late to stop a recession, though most have shifted to an ultra-cautious stance in recent weeks.
The bank at first treated the August crunch as a “mid-cycle correction”, much like the financial storm after Russia’s default in 1998. But the collapse of the US commercial paper market has now continued for seventeen weeks, suggesting a “fundamental deleveraging of the banking system.”
Mr Berner — known at Morgan Stanley as the “resident bull” — is one of the most closely watched analysts on Wall Street. While he began to turn bearish last April as the credit markets turned nasty, the latest report is written in tones that may is rattle the fast-diminishing band of optimists.