I’ve just had a look at the Wall Street Journal‘s survey of economic forecasts for 2006. Several of the participating economists are friends of mine or have connections to North Carolina. Four of particular interest to me are equally distributed among the bulls and bears of the survey.

Old friend Jim Smith, a finance professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, is near the top of the optimists’ list, at least in the short run. He foresees 3rd Quarter growth of 3.5 percent and a 4.1 percent spike in the 4th. National Review colleague and former JLF speaker Larry Kudlow is also among the bullish, expected 3.5 percent in both quarters. The difference is that while Kudlow predicts solid growth into 2007, Smith is forecasting GDP declines in 2007. No one else in the survey has done that.

On the other hand, Charlotte-based economist John Silvia, of Wachovia, projects 2.8 percent in the 3rd and 2.7 in the 4th. From the other Queen City bank is Mickey Levy, Bank of America, who offers the same short-run prediction. He is a bit more bullish than Silvia for the first part of 2007, though.