crystal ballMark Vinter, senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities, LLC Economics Group, started his presentation at the IGA meeting with this premise: “We are more than two years into the economic recovery and there is still considerable amount of uncertainty regarding sovereign debt issues in Europe and the U.S. housing sector.

Here are highlights from Mark’s presentation:

● The industrial sector continues to grow, driving by robust demand overseas for U.S. manufactured capital goods.

● The new normal: Financial crises around the world have been occurring more frequently in recent decades, which is driving volatility in the U.S. Treasury bond market.

● Households lost vast sums of wealth during the 2007-2009 recession, but the value of total household assets has bounced back since then.

● History shows us that recoveries from financial crises tend to be slow and protracted.

● Job losses in the 2007-2009 recession exceeded every post-World War II  downturn and the modest recovery we have seen to date has been extremely disappointing in term of job growth.

● Need a job. North Dakota, Alaska and Washington, DC continue to lead the nation in employment growth, while the labor markets in Nevada, Florida and Arizona remain exceptionally weak.

● Housing starts have bottomed and will increase modestly through 2012, returning to a “normal” level by 2015.

● Commercial real estate prices remain weak.

● Nonresidential construction spending will show modest improvement over the next couple of years.

● The recovery in the retail sector will continue to struggle.

● The federal budget deficit has exploded in recent years.

● The president’s most recent federal budget proposal showed larger budget deficits than what was projected a year ago.

● The overall euro area appears to have slipped back into a recession. Spain and Italy are probably too big to bail out.

● Issues to watch: European Debt Crisis; Trade Wars & Currency Devaluations; Asian Real Estate Bubble? Geopolitcal Tensions; Credit Availability & Financial Return; Energy/Commodity Price Swings; Delveraging; Fiscal and Monetary Policy.