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Recession is a given. Can we avoid depression?

Economists wonder if the Bush administration is ideologically inclined to do what's needed to rescue economy.

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When economist Robert Parks predicted early last week that there was more than a 60 percent probability the current financial meltdown in the United States would lead to the "Bush depression," his phone began ringing like crazy with calls from the media.

Only last fall, most economists were forecasting a modest slowdown. Now, a good majority of them see a slump big enough to qualify as a recession.

But a depression?

Nah! Most number crunchers are counting on the Federal Reserve to stop any failure on Wall Street from cascading to other financial institutions and leaving them falling down like dominoes.

The Fed, under Chairman Ben Ber­nanke, has taken several orthodox and unorthodox monetary actions to prevent the credit freeze-up from spreading and damaging further the basic economy.

Last Tuesday, for instance, the Fed dropped short-term interest rates another 0.75 percentage points to 2.25 percent, hoping to revive financially squeezed banks and encourage consumers to borrow and spend.

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