JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) CEO Jamie Dimon made some optimistic remarks this week. If we get a handle on our fiscal problems, Dimon thinks the economy is ready for 4% growth and 200,000 new jobs a month -- far above current growth rates.
Other CEOs have been just as cheerful. Stuart Miller of Lennar (NYSE: LEN ) recently said, "Simply put, the housing market is recovering." Ara Hovnanian of Hovnanian (NYSE: HOV ) said, "We are undoubtedly well on the recovery route. It's not a question of are we beginning it."
Others aren't as sure.
Last week, I sat down with Stanford economist and former Mitt Romany advisor John Taylor. I asked him if he feels better about 2013 than he did 2012. "No I don't, actually," was his response.
Here's what else he had to say (transcript follows).
Morgan Housel: "We're about to start the new year. Do you feel better about 2013 than you do about 2012?
John Taylor: No I don't, actually. Of course a lot of that depends on what happens through the end of 2012 with respect to the cliff. We do have an enormous potential to fix things, but I don't see that right now. If we did, I would be very positive.
I'd say maybe just to expand a little bit on this, I think long term, I am optimistic. We have lots of potential in this country. We've fixed our problems before. Globally speaking, there's an enormous amount of growth that can take place, and Americans can benefit from that.
So long term, to '13 and beyond, we have lots of opportunities and potential, but that will depend on getting the policies right.
Morgan Housel: When, in your opinion, will the average middle-class American be able to look in the mirror and say, I'm doing better than ever?
John Taylor: I think it's going to be a while. We need to have a regular recovery. We need to have a recovery, say like we had in the 80s or from other deep recessions. And we don't have that yet. I think we could. We could have 4% growth for a while, but that's not what people are forecasting. If anything their forecasts for growth are going down because I think they're seeing this slow growth economy that we're in. You need to get growth above this one-and-a-half, two percent range for a while, and then I think people will feel better about things. We have the productivity growth that could still be there.
You know, your question so much depends on what we do with policy. I know I keep coming back to that, but just think about our education policy. If we continue to deliver poor education services in our center cities, those people are going to be trapped into a life that no one wants to have, and so you need to work on this whole policy issue where generally I think people will feel better off, but it depends on the policy change.