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Business Economists Bet U.S. Recession Is Over

By John S. McClenahen A short and shallow recession is probably over and next year should see U.S. real GDP growing 3.5% to 4%. So says the National Association of Business Economists (NABE), Washington, D.C. Its 37-member panel of forecasters is giving 60% odds that the recession that began in the U.S. in March 2001 is already over. Just two of its panelists believe that sustained economic growth won't resume until after mid-2002. The business economists expect inflation, as measured by the U.S. Labor Department's Consumer Price Index, to remain low this year -- a median estimate of only 1.5%. Unemployment is another story, however. The panelists expect the jobless rate to average 6% this year and decline only a bit to 5.7% in 2003. More than 90% of the NABE panelists expect Chairman Alan Greenspan and his Federal Reserve colleagues to begin raising U.S. interest rates this year -- although probably not until the second half of the year. Only 15% of the panel anticipates higher rates by the end of 2002's April-June quarter.

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