February 24th, 2009
01:49 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Bernanke sees end of recession

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says he's hoping the recession could end later this year, but he cautioned that a full economic recovery will take "more than two or three years."

The head of the central bank said in prepared remarks before the Senate Banking Committee today that a turnaround will only occur "if actions taken by the administration, the Congress, and the Federal Reserve are successful in restoring some measure of financial stability." He also acknowledged the recovery might not go as well as hoped.

Home prices declined at a record pace around the nation in the final three months of 2008.

The S&P Case-Shiller National Home Price Index says prices sank a record 18.2% during the last three months of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007. Case-Shiller's index of 20 major metropolitan areas fell 18.5%, also a record.

Sun Belt cities suffered the worst declines, with Phoenix down 34%, Las Vegas off 33% and San Francisco lower by 31.2%. Denver fared best, down 4%, while Dallas was lower by 4.3% and Cleveland slid 6.1%.

A key measure of consumer sentiment plummeted more than expected in February as Americans remained wary of spending amid the weak economy and rising unemployment.

The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, says its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 25 in February from a revised reading of 37.4 in January. The index, which has been at historic lows since September, now stands at its lowest level since it was created in 1967.

Stocks on Wall Street bounced higher at the open despite the rash of weak economic news. Stocks tumbled Monday, with the Dow and S&P ending at their lowest levels since 1997. Concerns about the economy - particularly the banking, auto and tech sectors - led investors to continue their recent selling spree.

Gas prices dropped 1 cent overnight to $1.90 a gallon. 9 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. 41 states have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.529). The cheapest gas prices are in Missouri ($1.684)

Finally, battered by mounting credit-card losses, American Express is offering $300 to a limited number of cardholders who pay off their balances and close their accounts.

Cardholders have until the end of February to accept the offer and must close their accounts in March or April. Each card holder will receive a $300 pre-paid American Express card.

Charge-offs, or loans that American Express has deemed un-collectable, rose to more than 8% in January from 7% the month before, while payments that were at least 30 days overdue climbed to above 5%, the company said in a filing last week.

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Wall St.
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. NoRemote

    Can someone please explain to me why $787 billion dollars cannot be distributed amongst the american people? To my understanding the reason banks can't lend is because of this 'toxic' debt. IF every family is given a piece of that pie they can in turn pay off debt, right? Why must we force more lending...?

    February 24, 2009 at 9:35 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    I think Ben Bernanke's crystal ball must be cracked. If anything is getting better we can't see it for all the other bad stuff and we sure don't feel it.

    February 24, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  3. jarrod

    all i can say is it took a year to be told what we already knew a recession was devastating....and bernanke sayin he sees an end i wonder why we can't grasp the day to day stock market and all the things we didn't see coming.....for the sake of another (STUPID) era i don't think i would put a time frame on any improvments of this turbulent economy.

    February 24, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  4. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    earle,florida said:
    "My dad once told me something I’ll never forgot,and I’d like to share it with you; A recession is when your neighbor is out of work; a depression is when your out of work,…"

    Your dad was a wise man earle 🙂

    Live by his standards and I'm sure you will never stray.

    February 24, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  5. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    No one sees a recession coming because all the financial institutions would see investors withdrawing money before the fall. That simply does not support the elitist lifestyle.

    February 24, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  6. earle,florida

    My dad once told me something I'll never forgot,and I'd like to share it with you; A recession is when your neighbor is out of work; a depression is when your out of work,...

    February 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  7. Mari, Salt Lake City

    OF COURSE! I am old enough to remember the recessions past! Especially, the one in 1982, when our Nation had lost ........ 4.8 Million jobs, just like today.

    We will get through this! This recession, though very painful is a lesson to our consumer-shop-till-you-drop-society! This IS a wake-up call for Americans.

    Lessons: save, live within your means, DO NOT be in DEBT, and lastly....... 'things' do not equal happiness!


    PS. and we will remember that when things were tough, the GOPers obstructed our president! When we recover we will thank the wisdom of our president, and the Democrats and the three GOPers who voted for the Stimulus!

    February 24, 2009 at 3:39 pm |


    February 24, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  9. Jennifer

    Bernanke is obviously not all here....in America, that is, or else he would have a clue: Recession isn't ending, it's getting worse!

    February 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  10. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    It is truly amazing how Bernanke sees end of recession--too bad he didn't see it coming--and now all Americans are thrown under the bus--I'm getting sick--

    February 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Joe G. (From Illinois)

    Even if it’s true that the Saps will take Obama’s hook in 2 or 3 years like Ben Bernanke said.. The recovery “If such” will be “Artificial..” So who in their right mind would ever invest on such platform? Whether you view Obama’s personal Balloon pet project on a Domestic or International perspective, I really don’t think people will bite! I think people are too tired of the same old music, regardless if “Obama is the one singing this time.” Ben Bernanke is either seriously wrong or daydreaming in his business suit.

    February 24, 2009 at 2:26 pm |