NEW YORK, NY — Gail D. Fosler, chief economist of the Conference Board, told theNew York Timesthat she has become more optimistic about the economy than she was several months ago.

“Actually, the economy was beginning to rebound before the (Sept. 11) attacks,” she said, “and as we look at the economy over the last three months, we’re setting a stage for a move back to growth in the first quarter. I think people will be surprised at how modest the decline is in the fourth quarter.

“Retail numbers have been going up and prices are going down. That is coming out of inventories. And durable-goods orders suggest that business spending and investment did not decline faster in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter. When you add all this up, the consumer sector is going to look surprisingly strong in the fourth quarter.”

She added, “This may turn out to be, in terms of absolute duration, one of the shorter recessions, and it may turn out to be one of the mildest.”

Publication date: 12/24/2001