With stock prices spiraling downward and treasury yields tanking, the market has been sending a clear message this week: The fragile economic recovery is in trouble. But just how bad is the outlook? In the aftermath of a bleak second quarter, experts are still divided about the likelihood of a double-dip recession. What's becoming clearer with each new report, though, is that the economy--even if it doesn't double dip--is steadily losing ground.
The economic souring is, of course, being spearheaded by a familiar cast of characters: An anemic labor market, a skeptical consumer base, a weak housing market, and a global debt crisis that threatens to overwhelm national governments, just to name a few. Further deterioration in even one of these arenas could be enough to trigger a double-dip, which is loosely defined as a period during which a recovery is interrupted by economic contraction, usually in the form of negative GDP growth.
Uncertain times. It better get better. So be careful.