Though the country is not technically in a recession by thetraditional definition (two consecutive quarters of negative GDPgrowth), other standards such as a significant decrease in economicactivity, job loss, flat production and decelerating sales andincome growth result in indicate otherwise, said John W. Bitner,senior vice president and chief economist of Eastern InvestmentAdvisors, Boston.

"Yes, we are in a recession," Bitner, adding that "the consumeris the Achilles heel to this recession. … As the consumer goes, sogoes the economy."

The sales boost resulting from the Federal stimulus checksshould begin to wear off by the fourth quarter, just as homeheating bills hit. As a result, holiday sales remain a concern,Bitner added. And development will remain difficult.

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