The Fed said its staffers now expect the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink in the first half of this year, the clearest signal yet from the central bank that its members think the economy could be close to entering a recession -- if it hasn't already. Many Fed policymakers indicated that a downturn in the economy in the first half of the year "now appeared likely."...According to the minutes, the Fed said its staff is projecting only a slow rise in GDP in the second half of this year. It also said there is a risk that the economic slump could continue all the way into 2009.
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