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A strong economic recovery? Really?

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Steve Chiotakis: We keep hearing from analysts that economic recovery is slowly taking hold. But a lot of indicators — unemployment and lending to name a few — haven’t really caught up with that notion. So how is it, then, some financial soothsayers say once a recovery take hold, it’ll be a really strong one? We brought in Economics correspondent Chris Farrell to talk to us about it. Good morning Chris.

Chris Farrell: Good morning.

Chiotakis: So how can anyone come to this conclusion given all the data we have?

Farrell: Last year corporate CEOs believed we might go into a Depression, so they purged their workforce, they slashed that inventory, they put a halt to all capital-spending plans. Well, things are starting to get a little bit better, so they’re starting to make phone calls: “We’ve got to rebuild our inventory. We have to invest in new technologies, and by the way, we’re going to work our people harder, reversing the purge.” It’s going to be a bigger-than-expected boost to the economy.

Chiotakis: I can’t help but still be a skeptic Chris. You know, when I read the data about — like hours worked — we’re seeing hours worked like 33 hours a week or something like that, and it keeps going down. I mean, how can that be a precursor to a strong recovery?

Farrell: Oh, let me come back to you with a counter argument.

Chiotakis: All right.

Farrell: If you look at the previous nine downturns in our economy, the recoveries have always been stronger than expected. Well we just went through the longest, deepest downturn since the 1930s. You know what I say? I think history is going to repeat itself.

Chiotakis: I can’t help but think inflation is going to be a problem, Chris? You have the price of gold surging and the dollar keeps taking hit after hit. I mean that can’t bode well, can it?

Farrell: Inflation? What inflation? There is no inflation out there. There’s not enough demand. I mean, you know what? This gold? It’s a bubble. It’s got all the signs of a bubble. Take a look at all the institutional money that all of a sudden that said, “oh, we would never invest in gold.” All of a sudden they’re piling it into gold? Tell you what — three months from now, let’s talk about gold because I have a feeling we’re going to be talking about a boom-bust cycle.

Chiotakis: And this is still a minority position, right?

Farrell: Oh, this is absolutely a minority position. I mean, look, the consensus has a lot of strength behind it. Just as you mention your skepticism. But we know that the consensus is always wrong, right? It always is. So I’m hoping that the consensus is wrong in that we get a stronger-than-expected recovery because what’s the alternative? We get another downturn.

Chiotakis: Economics correspondent Chris Farrell with us this morning. Chris, thanks.

Farrell: Thanks a lot.

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