Cutting predictions from their prior survey, 50 forecasters surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia see gross domestic product growth this quarter at 0.7%, compared to the 2.2% predicted in three months ago, followed by 1.3% growth in the second quarter, and 2.8% growth in each of the year’s two remaining quarters.

The survey of professional forecasters said there is a 47% probability of a downturn this quarter and 43% in the second quarter, according to the survey released yesterday.

Real GDP growth of 1.8% in 2008 and 2.8% in 2009 is expected. The projection for 2008 is down from 2.5% in the last survey.

The survey was conducted before Congress passed a fiscal stimulus package, but most panelists said they anticipated the effects of such a package. Thirteen economists report the stimulus’ effects should be seen beginning in the second quarter and 19 think the effect will begin in the third quarter. Two estimated that the effect will not begin until the fourth quarter, and the remainder did not provide answers.

The effect, based on the median response, on annual-average over annual-average growth in real GDP is gauged at 0.3 percentage points in 2008 and 0.1 percentage points in 2009. Notably, a wide divergence of opinion surrounds the median estimates, with the projections ranging from 0 to 1.5 percentage points in 2008 and negative 1.0 to 0.75 percentage points in 2009.

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