Altman Says Economic Recovery in U.S. Is ‘Profoundly Weak’

Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners Inc. (EVR) and a former U.S. deputy treasury secretary, said the U.S. recovery has been “profoundly weak” and may pose a challenge to President Barack Obama’s election campaign.

“The most noteworthy thing about the U.S. recovery so far has been its weakness,” Altman said at an event hosted by think tank Chatham House in London today. “American households are still in the midst of a long-term deleveraging exercise” and “the U.S. labor market is weaker than it looks.”

While the unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 8.3 percent last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday that the decline veils weaknesses in the U.S. labor market. Obama’s approval rating has climbed to 50 percent and a majority of voters for the first time favor him over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published Feb. 6.

“It’s too early really to read polls, but the economy will be the primary determinant of the outcome of our elections in November,” Altman said. He cited Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s prediction for a year-end jobless rate of 9 percent and said if that materializes, “it will be a very close and difficult election for the president.”

Altman, who served under President Bill Clinton, said the U.S. needs “more growth” and “actually could use more stimulus.” He also said the outlook this year is “only modestly better” than 2011.

To contact the reporters on this story: Svenja O’Donnell in London at sodonnell@bloomberg.net; Scott Hamilton in London at shamilton8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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