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Economists in Gloomy Mood

November 22, 1991|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — A group of top economists said Thursday that it had grown gloomier about the economy, while a respected university research center concluded there is a one-in-three chance of a "double-dip" recession.

A survey of 45 professional forecasters by the National Assn. of Business Economists showed that members are less optimistic about the economy than they were when last surveyed in August.

But they still believed that the sluggish rate of growth would not give way to another recession.

"Conviction among the panelists is nearly universal that the anticipated recovery will prove less robust than usual," the group said.

"Not a single participant in the survey expects a recovery stronger than the historical norm, and only one respondent out of 45 thinks that the economy will manage to record even an average rebound."

But falling consumer confidence has created a one-in-three chance that the economy will slump back into recession, the University of Michigan's respected Survey Research Center said.

Richard Curtin, director of the center, said at a news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., that higher unemployment rates and lingering worries about layoffs and incomes pushed consumer confidence to its lowest level since the end of the Gulf War in February.

The center's consumer confidence index for October declined to 78.3 from 83 in September.

The NABE results were similar to those of another poll in early November by the newsletter Blue Chip Economic Indicators, which found 43 economic forecasters projecting fourth-quarter growth at a 1.9% annual rate, followed by 1992 growth of 2.4%.

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