U.S. Economy Set to Improve

No matter who wins the White House, U.S. growth will accelerate as consumers spend more and banks lend more.

Mitt Romney says Barack Obama’s policies will consign the U.S. to an extended period of sluggish economic growth, at best. The president says his Republican challenger’s plans will sow the seeds of another mammoth recession. Both are wrong.

No matter who wins the election tomorrow, the economy is on course to enjoy faster growth in the next four years as the headwinds that have held it back turn into tailwinds. Consumers are spending more and saving less after reducing household debt to the lowest since 2003. Home prices are rebounding after falling more than 30 percent from their 2006 highs. And banks are increasing lending after boosting equity capital by more than $300 billion since 2009.

‘Defensive’ Stocks

 

Optimistic Households

Households seem increasingly inclined to side with the optimists, preferring to see the economic glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Consumer confidence climbed in October to a more than four-year high as Americans took comfort from an improving job market, according to figures from the New York-based Conference Board.

‘Strong’ Quarter

While U.S. sales of cars and light-duty trucks will suffer temporarily from the disruption caused by Hurricane Sandy, the industry “will have a strong fourth quarter and continue growing next year,” Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales for General Motors Co. in Detroit, said in a Nov. 1 conference call with analysts.

Distressed Properties

“Housing typically adds 1 to 2 percentage points” in a recovery, said Dean Maki, New York-based chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc, who worked at the Fed from 1995 to 2000. As the overhang of distressed properties is cleared away, “you may get a bigger kick from housing” in 2015 and 2016, he said.

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