Economist not sure U.S. is in recession

A regional Federal Reserve researcher said in a published paper published that he was still not clear whether the U.S. economy was in a recession, breaking with a widespread consensus among U.S. economists. The paper by Glenn Rudebusch, senior research advisor at the San Francisco Fed, said the coming months will be decisive in determining whether the country is in recession."If the economy holds steady for a few more months, a recession could be avoided," he wrote.He based his conclusion on the definition of a recession as a prolonged period when overall economic activity is actually declining and production, employment and sales are falling. Many economists use a shorthand definition of recession -- six straight months of contraction in gross domestic product.The U.S. economy had grown only about 1.0 percent in the year leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States that dealt a severe blow to the country's economy. Economic growth had ground to a near halt in the second quarter from April to June.There is wide agreement among U.S. economists that the country is now in a recession, though some say that it might have happened even without the attacks. A U.S. recession threatens to drag the global economy into a slump as well.The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the nation's official arbiter of recessions, said already in June that a recession probably began in May.NBER defines a recession as a significant decline in output, employment income and retail sales lasting more than a few months, the criteria used by Rudebusch.Rudebusch said if economic activity stars to deteriorate more quickly in the months ahead, the start of the recession will be dated back to March 2001, the peak from where the recent decline began.The two key indicators of recession -- industrial production and employment -- are headed down the same path as in past recessions. Industrial output has fallen for 11 straight months and the decline over that period has already exceeded the total decline of 4.6 percent in the last recession in 1990-91.

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