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Paulson D, Bernanke B+

According to WSJ, the recent economists survey:

The lack of confidence was clear in the economists' grades for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whose marks fell to a 60, the lowest level during his tenure. More than half of respondents gave the Treasury secretary a grade equivalent to a D or F. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's average grade rose slightly to a 72, but 26% gave him the equivalent of a D or F. More than half of economists put his grade in the A or B range.

The consensus estimates says the recession will probably end by June 2009, and unemployment rate will top out at 8.4%.

On average, economists expect the downturn to conclude in June 2009. Last week, the National Bureau of Economic Research dated the start of recession in December 2007. That puts the downturn at 18 months, the longest period of decline since the Great Depression. The recessions of 1973-75 and 1981-82 both lasted 16 months.

This recession has centered not on businesses but consumers, who are being hit by dwindling home prices and job losses. The economists on average said the unemployment rate will peak at 8.4% in response to this recession. While that actual rate was surpassed in both the 1970s and 1980s, it would mark a four-percentage-point increase from the low of 4.4% in March 2007. Only the 1973-75 recession, with a 4.1-percentage-point increase, had a larger jump in the postwar period.

Adding to consumers' pain is that the end of the recession isn't likely to mark the end of job losses. In past recessions, labor-market contraction continued for months after a downturn's official end. So, while economists, on average, expect the unemployment rate to top out at 8.4%, they forecast an 8.1% rate for December 2009 as job cuts continue into 2010.

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