No Recession, Asserts Conference Board's Goldstein

By John S. McClenahen Although the New York-based Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators has now declined for four of the last five months, Ken Goldstein, the business research group's chief economist, contends the U.S. economy is not now in a recession -- nor is one imminent. The index declined 0.2% to 108.2 in February. Indeed, with lower interest rates and what he believes is a "likely" individual income-tax cut, Goldstein expects that "we're going to see a better second half this year than we have right now." In the meantime, while expecting a better economic second half, analyst Maury Harris at UBS/Paine Webber is significantly lowering his growth-rate forecasts for 2001. He expects the U.S. economy to actually contract -- by 0.5% -- in the April to June quarter. Previously, he anticipated 1.5% inflation-adjusted growth in the second quarter. Harris predicts the third quarter of this year will show 1.5% growth, down from a previously forecast 2.5%, and he expects the fourth quarter to post 2.5% growth, down from his earlier estimate of 3%.

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