The US Federal Reserve will need to slash interest rates three times this year as the housing slump goes from bad to worse and the American consumer begins to buckle, Goldman Sachs has warned.
"Americans have shown a complete lack of self-control. The personal savings rate is at its lowest point ever, and has actually been negative since April 2005.
"We believe that housing will soon become the proverbial 'straw that breaks the camel's back'," said David Kostin, the investment bank's US strategist.
Goldman Sachs said homeowners had treated windfall gains from rising house prices as if they were "recurring income", using home equity withdrawls to subsidize over-stretched lifestyles. This artificial boost to spending has already dropped from 7pc to 4pc of GDP over the last year, and is likely to halve again in 2007.
Goldman Sachs: Housing bust? You ain't seen nothin' yet.
US housing bust getting worse, warns Goldman:
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