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If the long-anticipated recession actually happens, it is more likely to be a bump in the road than a pothole that disrupts the economic recovery.

"Our own leading economic indicators suggest that if we are going to have a recession, it's probably starting right about now in February, March or as late as the beginning of the second quarter," said Dana Peterson, chief economist for The Conference Board. "If we do have a recession, we think it's probably going to be short, and it's going to be shallow. It may start in the first quarter and be more pronounced in the second quarter, but we are not anticipating major declines in GDP growth."

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