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5 More Years of Stagnation


Conference Board says economic turnaround unlikely.

The Conference Board says the US economy is "stagnant" and Europe is falling into a recession.

US growth will be in the range of 1% to 2% for the foreseeable future.

The Conference Board is a business membership and research organization based in New York. It's best known for the Consumer Confidence Index and the Leading Economic Indicators.

The downbeat economy in the US could last as long as 5 years. Growth of 2% or less in the world's largest economy could constitute a recession.

About 463,000 Americans have lost their jobs since January. The most severe housing slump in 25 years has limited spending and reduced bank lending. Economists look for annualized growth rates of 1% in the third quarter and 0.4% in the fourth quarter, Bloomberg reports.

Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, says the economy's acceleration to a 3.3% growth rate in the second quarter "is likely to prove ephemeral."

The technology sector is beginning to weaken and the manufacturing sector, which has been strong so far, is likely to start showing signs of weakness. Global inflation pressures are likely to continue as commodity prices ease.

In the United States, the housing downturn has hammered luxury builder Toll Brothers (TOL) and home improvement retailers such as Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW). While Wal-Mart (WMT) reported solid sales, other retailers have been hit hard. Caterpillar (CAT) says surging demand for construction and mining equipment in China and other emerging nations will drive record sales this year.

Conference Board President Gail Fosler, speaking in Singapore, said China is seeing the sharpest signs of an economic slowdown since the Asian financial crisis a decade ago.

China's slowdown can be seen in "the willingness of officials to reverse a lot of the policies that they put in place to restrain the economy and move back to a pro-export economy to try to stabilize this," Fosler said, according to Bloomberg.

The euro fell to an 11-month low against the dollar Friday after Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, said the economy is weak.

The Conference Board says the Consumer Confidence Index is up 5 points and CEO Confidence is up 1 point, but the US Leading Index is down 0.7%.
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