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Goldman’s O’Neill Says U.S. Housing in Early Stages of ‘Turning’

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill said the U.S. housing market is in the early stages of a recovery as affordability improves.

“I’m in the camp that believes the U.S. housing market is in the early days of turning,” O’Neill said at the Society of Business Economists’ annual conference in London today. “I just spent all of last week travelling around the U.S., I was on the west coast, the east coast, and everywhere I went, I heard quite lively anecdotes that this was the case.

‘‘Looking forward, U.S. house prices to personal incomes are now actually below where they were at the start of the 1990s,’’ he said. ‘‘So for people not trapped in the negative equity problem, U.S. housing is cheap.’’

O’Neill also added that the position of the U.S. government’s finances is an ‘‘enormous dilemma” and November’s presidential election will not provide a solution.

“After being there last week, it’s not entirely clear to me that this election coming up is going to solve any of that at all,” the economist said. “The strength of conviction of the Republicans and Democrats conceptually is so strong, I rather suspect that, without a financial crisis, it’s not clear to me that the U.S. is going to do anything about its fiscal position.

‘‘There are such fundamental philosophical differences about the role of government spending and taxation which are not easily solved,’’ he said.

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