Good news on the economic front is rarer these days than moments of grace from our new Vice President. The lofty and idealistic words of President Obama, so well spoken seem a distant whisper among the barrage of history-making declines in housing, employment, prices, and confidence. Republicans and Democrats are already at loggerheads over the stimulus package. Corporate earnings are more dismal than expected and equities markets have given up almost two-thirds of their gains from lows reached in November.

In the star-studded 1970’s comedy war film Kelly’s Heroes, Donald Southerland’s character ‘Oddball’ constantly admonished the dreary nature of his tank driver, Moriarty, played by Gavin MacLeod with the phrase “always with the negative waves Moriarty.”  The steady pounding of dour economic reports continues with little positive relief in sight. The juggernaut US and global economies seem to have changed course almost overnight. The change in mood is due both to qualitative and quantitative forces.

Last week we posed the question as to whether recession had already begun. Today 62 economists polled by Bloomberg News make it an even bet that job losses and housing contraction will stall the longest-ever expansion in consumer spending. They predict that the economy will grow at .5% in the first quarter implying the slowest growth since the 2001 recession. A growing number of economists, bankers, and brokers are saying that recession may already be upon us.