Panel examining recession’s causes meets in Vegas |

Panel examining recession’s causes meets in Vegas

Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nevada had unrealistic growth expectations before the nation’s financial meltdown battered the state’s tourism industry and erased billions of dollars in real estate equity, an economist told a federal commission examining the causes of the Great Recession.

“The state was overbuilt and some 100,000 jobs were predicated on a level of growth and consumer spending that seemed to evaporate almost overnight,” Jeremy Aguero, an economist for Applied Analysis, told representatives from the 10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Wednesday.

The group planned to question banking executives, analysts and public officials during a daylong hearing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Vice Chairman Bill Thomas, a Republican former congressman from California, said the commission was seeking testimony to deliver to bankers and others “who have no real on the ground knowledge of the suffering that goes on in a number of areas.”

“Laying the record is very important,” Thomas said.

The expert panels included U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden as well as local economists, banking executives and others with expertise in the Silver State, where foreclosures, bankruptcy and joblessness pace ahead of every other state in the country.

Aguero said Nevadans have lost billions in real estate equity, with home prices down to roughly the same levels as they were in 2000. He said there are 40,000 to 60,000 excess homes on the market today with no demand to buy.

“I think that signs existed, and certainly I missed it,” Aguero said. “There is little doubt whatsoever that this community got out in front of its skis.”

The commission was also expected to hear from the public at the meeting.

The group was created by Congress and has a formal report due to lawmakers and President Barack Obama by Dec. 15.