Fishing and Forecasting

Author: David Kotok, Post Date: August 6, 2008
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Intermittent rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the attendees at the annual fishing, economic, and financial retreat.  This year’s was the largest gathering ever.

CNBC’s Steve Liesman added to the enthusiasm with the live coverage that started on Squawk Box Friday morning and carried on to other shows during the day.  Steve and his producer, Matt Greco, are both accomplished fishermen, and that quickly bound them to the camaraderie of the gathering.  They were also robust participants in the weekend discussions. 

Readers who wish to see and hear some of the interviews may find them on www.CNBC.com .  Search under “Kotok” to get started and you will speedily obtain several segments from the group.  Special thanks to Becky Quick for the eponymous imprimatur of “Camp Kotok.”

No one in the group expected the Fed to change interest rates at yesterday’s meeting.  The two Fed folks attending the retreat maintained silence on this issue.

Nearly all of the retreat participants hold serious concerns about the credit market turmoil and the prolonged period of economic weakness.  As one might expect, the group is divided about how long the slow period will last and about how severe any downturn will be. 

The big issues are the continuing deterioration in housing values, trouble for automobiles, the developing list of bank failures, specific concerns about home equity loan losses still to be taken by banks, the federal budget, energy prices and, lastly, the prospect of an unemployment rate that may go well above 6% and even approach 7% before this cycle ends.  I’m in the high 6% camp and had plenty of company.

There will be a number of articles covering the retreat and reporting on the survey results.  Barron’s will carry one by Jim McTague.  Therefore we will only add a brief perspective to what has been reported on TV and what will be in the press. 

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