Recession Over? Top Strategist Says ‘Yes’ — Cautiously

Liz Ann Sonders, the chief investment strategist for Charles Schwab & Co. — who accurately called the start of the current recession in December 2007 — says she thinks the recession is now over. But, she adds, don’t confuse that wiith “runaway optimism” about the economy.

“I’ve been asked a lot, ‘please tell me when you think the turn has come,'” Sonders told 620WTMJ Radio of Wisconsin yesterday. “And I think the turn has come. … We may look back and see April, maybe May, as the end point, but that’s a guess based on my reading of the tea leaves at this point.”

Sonders says recessions often end before one really notices a major turnaround. “I think at the beginning, it doesn’t feel like [a turnaround],” she said. “[But] I think we’ve gone from bad to less bad on the way to better. It’s usually when you make that turn to less bad that, historically, recessions have officially ended.” But, she adds, “that should not be confused with runaway optimism about the economy, by no means.”

One key reason Sonders thinks the recession has ended is the stock market’s performance. “We’re overdue for a bit of a breather from a market perspective, but I think the market quite frankly is doing the job that it does so well, which is that it gives you a heads-up on the economy,” she said.

It will take time for Sonders’ latest call to be proven right or wrong. The National Bureau of Economic Research, the group charged with officially calling the start and end dates of recessions, historically hasn’t make its official end-of-recession declaration until an average of 16 months after the actual end point, Sonders notes.

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