MUMBAI The U.S. subprime housing crisis will not peak until 2009, rating agency Standard and Poor's said on Tuesday, adding it had underestimated the extent of fraud in the industry.
S&P expected the world economy to grow 3.6 percent in 2007 and 3.5 percent in 2008, with emerging market economies driving growth. The U.S. economy would lag at 2 percent in both years, down from 2.9 percent in 2006.
Housing was the major weakness in the U.S. economy and the subprime crisis -- which roiled global markets in late July and August -- was far from over, although its shock value was wearing off, David Wyss, S&P's chief economist, said in Mumbai.
"We underestimated the extent to which fraud was occurring in the industry," he said.
"It looks, based on some surveys that had been done, the extent of frauds increased sharply in 2006."
S&P said the U.S. Federal Reserve had estimated that subprime losses could reach $150 billion, and Wyss said that would feed through to unemployment and remain a brake on growth.
"We think in the United States the housing market is not going to bottom until winter. We think the losses in these sectors won't really hit their peak until 2009," Wyss said.
"We are not halfway through with this crisis yet."
Emerging markets were far less vulnerable to credit market turmoil than during previous crises because of the capital flows attracted by high economic growth coupled with improved corporate governance standards, S&P said.
"World growth remains strong despite the weaknesses seen in the U.S. economy -- especially in emerging markets because of healthy domestic demand conditions and export strength to non-U.S. markets," it said in a report.
"The fact that the U.S. slowdown is concentrated in housing, which has relatively low import content, helps," it said.
High commodity prices were also helping many emerging market economies, such as Latin American and African countries that are major exporters.
S&P estimated that, on a purchasing-power parity basis, the United States would contribute only 9 percent of world growth in 2007, compared with China's 33 percent and India's 12 percent.