Recession or no recession, business as usual won't do in 2001.
As this article goes to press in winter, the talk of the nation for the past two months has been about a U.S. economic slowdown. Journalists are trotting out reams of data to detail plunging corporate profits and a bear stock market. And some indicators, undeniably, look bad:
- The Commerce Department showed growth slowing to an annual rate of 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter from the third quarter's 2.2 percent and the second quarter's 5.6 percent.
- The Conference Board saw its widely followed Consumer Confidence Index fall to its lowest point in more than four months: 114.14 in January from 128.6 in December.
- OPEC seems determined to keep oil at or above $25 per barrel, while natural gas prices have risen astronomically.
- Such stalwarts of the New Economy as Intel are issuing profit warnings.
- Fed chairman Alan Greenspan reported to Congress less-than-encouraging news on January 25: "As far as we can judge, we have had a very dramatic slowing down, and indeed we are probably very close to zero [growth] at this particular moment."
Judging by the statistics, it looks like Morgan Stanley Dean Witter chief economist Stephen Roach may have been right when he predicted a recession for 2001 in a January 8 report.
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