Q&A with Robert Dietz: Reasons for economic recovery, and how builders can plan for it

By Rich Binsacca | ProBuilder

The NAHB’s chief economist Robert Dietz has had a rough spring. No worse than any home builders or remodelers suffering the effects of COVID-19 in their operations, of course, but one that required him and NAHB to unexpectedly and quickly pivot to understand and explain an economic downturn almost no one saw coming after painting a rosy picture for the housing industry at the International Builders’ Show in late January. 

Now, more than two months into an economic downturn that in many cases rivals the worst of the Great Recession, Dietz and his team are working to help builders make sense of the various coronavirus restrictions and their impact on the housing industry, and suggest a game plan for how builders can look at the next two months, the next two quarters, and the next two years coming out of it.

Pro Builder: How does this recession compare to the Great Recession?

Robert Dietz: Well, it’s occurring in a much shorter period of time, and the magnitude of some of the economic declines are actually greater than those during the Great Recession, such as GDP [gross domestic product] and employment. But where that downturn was a financial crisis that snowballed into an economic crisis and caused a massive overhang of housing inventory and related issues, the industry going into COVID-19 was in a totally different position.

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