Although he doesn't see the housing sector reaching rock bottom for another year or so, economist David Wyss gave a surprisingly upbeat presentation while keynoting SourceMedia's Mortgage Outlook 2008 conference in New York on Friday.Mr. Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's, pointed out that the current downturn isn't much different from previous ones. The problem is that most mortgage and housing market participants have been enjoying an upward swing for so long that they don't remember what a downturn looks like, he said. The economist also stressed that the issue of housing price bubbles is not just a U.S. phenomenon. "Bubbles are everywhere," he said, and they are being driven by low mortgage rates just as in America. Mr. Wyss says he expects housing starts to reach their floor by next spring, and prices, after dropping by a total of 11%, to hit bottom by this time next year. While recovery is still a year away, he added, "most of the damage has already been done."

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