Those attending the Valley Industry and Commerce Association’s 20th Annual Business Forecast Conference on Thursday heard varying but gloomy assessments of the economy and its immediate future. Economist Christopher Thornberg, co-founder of Beacon Economics, predicted that 2009 would be a tough year but things should begin to improve in 2010 in the general economy in California. He said, however, that the state’s overinflated housing market wouldn’t begin to recover until 2012. Andre van Niekerk, dean of the school of business at Woodbury University, gave a more national and global view of things saying that the economic troubles are severe and that the U.S. has taken a hit on the world stage. “There’s an erosion of the U.S. as a trusted and respected leader,” van Niekerk said.