MCLEAN, Virginia: Some two-thirds of economists think the US economy is in a recession, a total that rises to 79% when expanded to include those who believe this will be the case at some point in 2008, according to USA Today's latest quarterly survey.

Most of the 52 economists taking part in the study, however, agreed that any downturn will most likely be "short and shallow", and a few argued that while the economy is slackening, it will fall short of a full-blown recession.

In general, they also predicted that US GDP will fall by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2008, and that the rate of inflation will also decline over the course of the year as the economy slows.

Other major issues highlighted in the survey include the potential increase in the price of food and oil, as well as the ongoing real estate crisis.

David Berson, chief economist for the PMI Group, warned: "Given the drop in home prices, there's a big risk that foreclosures will go up more than expected."

Unemployment, however, is predicted to average out at around 6% – a figure which Berson argues is "pretty low for a recession" – while a slowing demand for goods and services is also expected to help keep prices down.

Data sourced from USA; additional content by WARC staff