The latest report from the think-tank UCLA Anderson Forecast is out today, and says that while the US economy is not technically in a recession, it's pretty close:
A recession is defined as a two consecutive quarter decline in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the UCLA Anderson Forecast is calling for real GDP growth to be just above 1% for the fourth quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. While acknowledging that an economy slowed to a 1% growth rate could slip further, the Forecast notes rather ironically that their near recession forecast "can be viewed somewhat optimistically."
No kidding: the analysts went so far as to employ the analogy of an airplane dipping to "stall speed" and falling out of the sky to describe the state of the national economy.
... The Forecast has lowered its expectations for housing activity as the tightening of credit standards, combined with an ebbing of the builders' practice of building new houses to get out of the underlying land takes its toll. Previously, the Forecast called for housing starts to bottom out around 1.2 million; currently the forecast is for 1.0-1.1 million units. More importantly, Shulman and the project's economists now believe “that the recovery will be far more tepid with starts barely recovering to 1.4 million by the end of 2009.�
With that said, UCLA's economists have stuck by their guns in noting that they do not see a recession as imminent, although certainly within the realm of possibility. In terms of the California state economy, the Forecast was a little more rosy, with UCLA's economists noting that sans a secondary factor emerging -- or housing performance falling below current expectations -- they did not see a recession in the Golden State's future through the fourth quarter of 2009.