On the campaign trail and in homes across the USA, the debate is underway about whether the U.S. economy in 2008 will see its first downturn in seven years.
Despite the recent onslaught of negative news, it remains unclear whether the current state of affairs meets the economists' definition of a recession: a widespread decline in economic activity lasting more than just a few months. As in politics, all economics is local.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, for example, believes the U.S. economy is in recession.
But the contraction is far from uniform. Zandi's firm estimates that in January, 30 state economies were expanding while 15 were "at risk" of slipping into recession.
Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada were already in a recession at the start of the year. Those states account for one-quarter of the nation's total economic output.
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