Friday, September 30, 2011

Forecast says US double-dip recession is imminent

The U.S. economy is staring down another recession, according to a forecast from the Economic Cycle Research Institute.

"It's either just begun, or it's right in front of us," said Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of ECRI. "But at this point that's a detail. The critical news is there's no turning back. We are going to have a new recession."

The ECRI produces widely-followed leading indicators which predict when the economy is moving between recession and expansion. Achuthan said all those indicators are now pointing to a new economic downturn in the immediate future.

His recession call puts him ahead of most other forecasters. A CNNMoney survey of economists this week pointed to a one-in-three chance of a new recession in the next six months. The most bearish predictions put the odds at 50-50.

Achuthan said it is still possible that the recession will be mild this time, lasting less than a year with relatively limited job losses. But he said if there are shocks to the system, such as another financial meltdown due to the European sovereign debt crisis, it could become a very serious and deep recession.

His call comes the day after the government's final report on second quarter gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic health, showed weak growth of only 1.3% in the three months ending in June. Achuthan said he's confident that the recession either began in the third quarter, which ends today, or will begin in the fourth quarter.

The average American is already more bearish than most economists. A CNN/ORC International poll shows 90% of those polled believe current economic conditions are poor. more