11/02/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

U.S. Economy May Avoid Recession -- But Only Because It Can't Get Much Worse

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. economy is so bad that the chance of avoiding a double dip back into recession may actually be pretty good.

The sectors of the economy that traditionally drive it into recession are already so depressed it's difficult to see them getting a lot worse, said Ethan Harris, head of developed markets economics research at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research in New York. Inventories are near record lows in proportion to sales, residential construction is less than half the level of the housing boom and vehicle sales are more than 30 percent below five years ago.