Speakers clash over prospects for global economy

Two distinct schools of thought seem to be emerging in relation to prospects for the global economy. Relative optimists see a moderate slowdown followed by a recovery. Pessimists, on the other hand, predict something much more akin to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
At the Dubai summit the pessimistic school was represented by Andy Xie, an independent economist based in Shanghai, while I found myself representing the optimistic side.
Xie’s case was based on the assumption that the Anglo-Saxon economies will pay a heavy price for their credit binge in recent years. They gained for many years from rising house prices and artificially bolstered consumption but, in his view, after the pleasure comes the pain.
Although I do not see a sharp contraction in economic output my reasoning is different from the mainstream. For me this is a consumption-driven downturn rather than a “classic” recession. The advanced countries are likely to suffer a prolonged period of sluggish growth rather than a sharp contraction in the style of the 1930s.
The missing link in the discussion is a closer examination of the strength of the western economies and America in particular. Despite the end of the credit binge do they have the productive strength to enable them to weather the crisis?