This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The National Association for Business
Economics has its latest predictions for the American economy. Most of the forty-five
business economists questioned said they expect the recession to end in the
second half of the year. But they also expect a slower-than-usual recovery.

Still,
there were more signs this week that Americans are feeling better about the
economy. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index had its
biggest jump in six years in May.

A newly built home in Springfield, Illinois that sold recently
A new home that sold recently in Springfield, Illinois

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing
homes rose about three percent from March to April. The Commerce Department said
sales of new single-family houses also rose — but just by three-tenths of one
percent.

The Federal Housing
Finance Agency said home prices fell seven percent in the first three months of
the year. But that was less than they fell at the end of two thousand eight
compared to a year earlier.

Housing
recoveries usually follow employment recoveries. Experts say job losses might
slow later this year, but the unemployment rate could rise until the middle of
next year.

Job
losses help explain the latest numbers from the Mortgage Bankers Association. By
the end of March, twelve percent of homeowners with a mortgage were late on
loan payments or in the process of losing their home. California, Florida,
Arizona and Nevada drove up the national numbers.

Pete Kyle is a University of
Maryland finance professor. He agrees that the economy should begin to grow again
in the second half of the year. But because of job conditions, he says, the
recovery is “not going to feel like a recovery to the average
person.”

Unemployment
was almost nine percent in April, the highest since the early eighties. High
unemployment reduces spending which slows recovery. Professor Kyle also points
to a weak property market, both for housing and businesses.

But what really set this economic downturn
apart from others, he says, was the severity of the banking crisis. Many banks,
he says, are going to need additional capital to deal with bad loans and heavy
debt.

Heavy government debt only adds to
unease about the future after the so-called Great Recession.

But
President Obama says “we have stepped back from the brink.” He says there
is now some calm that did not exist before. But he also says Americans cannot
return to a “borrow-and-spend economy.”

And
that’s the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I’m Steve Ember.