Conference Board: Economy To Contract Into 2009

Group forecasts current negative growth rates for the U.S. economy to continue into the fourth quarter, and contract further in the first half of 2009.

NEW YORK -- Negative growth rates for the U.S. economy will continue through the fourth quarter, and there will be a further contraction in the first half of 2009, according to The Conference Board's forecast.

"As all eyes turn this weekend to Washington, D.C., for the IMF-World Bank meeting, one hopes that the leaders who gather there are able to engage in productive consultation about what next steps governments and central banks can take to stem the crisis beyond the latest coordinated cut in global interest rates," said Dr. Bart Van Ark, Vice President and Chief Economist of The Conference Board.

"If government and business leaders can calmly -- and privately -- focus squarely on a way out of all this, looking to prevent tomorrow’s fires even as they fight today’s, we can still avoid worse," he added. "This means finding a crucial balance between the short-run steps needed to get the economy back on its feet and the long-run needed to foster a new phase of global growth."

The Conference Board doesn't expect the housing market to improve before the first half of 2009 at the earliest.

The current forecast assumes that inter-bank lending will recover and investor and business confidence will return as government measures take hold.

Europe, as well as some Asian economies are now seeing some slowdown in growth, consumer expenditures, and exports. This will affect U.S. exports, which have contributed to U.S. growth over the past 6 months.

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