Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, predicts the economic recovery will be slow, despite encouraging comments earlier in the week from President Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The recession is showing signs of letting up, but the recovery process will not be speedy, Summers told CNBC.
While economic reports are “more mixed,” there are still signs of problems and weakness, he said. Consumer spending reports are more positive, which can be partly attributed to the stimulus.
The stimulus has put more “energy” into the consumer, he said, but the economic outlook still remains a “complex picture.”
“It’s going to take a long time to work through,” Summers said.
Bernanke says he believes there are signs the economy is recovering already, according to The Wall Street Journal. He said he is "fundamentally optimistic" about the future and its prospects.
"Recently we have seen tentative signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing," Bernanke said during a speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Bernanke said the 16-month-old recession is appearing to bottoming as reports on consumer spending, car sales, and housing are showing more positive trends.
"A leveling out of economic activity is the first step toward recovery," Bernanke said. “Today's economic conditions are difficult, but the foundations of our economy are strong, and we face no problems that cannot be overcome with insight, patience, and persistence.”
Bernanke said the Fed will also need to maintain a watchful eye on interest rates so that they do not remain too low for a long period of time, a hint that inflation is becoming a concern among Fed rate-setting members.
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