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U.S. recession will last 14 months says Fed survey

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Private-sector economists believe the U.S. economy fell into recession last spring and now expect a sharp contraction in the fourth quarter of this year after slashing their forecasts for gross domestic product, a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia survey said on Monday.

The bank’s quarterly Survey of Professional Forecasters also predicted non-farm payrolls would shrink by an average 222,400 per month during the last quarter of the year, nearly five times the pace of monthly job losses forecast when the previous survey was taken in August. The previous estimate was for 45,400 jobs lost per month in the quarter.

The forecasters survey also said the U.S. economy entered recession April and that the downturn would last for 14 months.

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Russian President Calls For Talks With Barack Obama

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Words byLynn Berry

WASHINGTON — The Dmitry Medvedev that made his first appearance in the U.S. capital as Russia’s president was not the same man Russians usually see at home.

He was confident, even charming, in reaching out Saturday in a spirit of cooperation to the incoming administration of Barack Obama.

He showed none of the bluster and tough talk that he has adopted in recent months in an awkward imitation of Vladimir Putin, his predecessor and mentor who still leads the country as prime minister.

Putin’s choice of Medvedev to succeed him earlier this year was seen as an effort to re-brand Russia, to improve its relations with the West and Western investors.

But the August war with Georgia, a former Soviet republic that has allied itself with Washington, led to a change in course. Medvedev quickly began to sound like Putin in casting the West as the aggressor.

The Nov. 4 election of Obama seemed to offer an opportunity for Russia and the United States to make a fresh start. But instead of welcoming Obama’s election, Medvedev issued a challenge.

In a Nov. 5 speech, he warned that Russia would move short-range missiles to NATO’s borders to “neutralize” a planned U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe if necessary.

Medvedev has since backed off slightly. He stressed Saturday that Russia would not act unless the United States took the first step and expressed hope that the new U.S. administration will be open to negotiations.
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Medvedev said there is a lack of trust between Russia and the United States, but it is “in our power” to create a partnership.

He called for talks with Obama as soon as possible after he becomes president Jan. 20 and suggested that missile defense would be a good place to start.

“I hope that the new president, the new administration will have a desire to discuss this,” Medvedev told members of the Council on Foreign Relations. “At least the first signals that we have received indicate that our new partners are thinking about the problems and do not simply plan to rubber stamp the plans.”

The Russian president, who was in Washington for the global financial summit, gave a short speech and then settled into an armchair next to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to continue the discussion with her. The choice of Albright carried additional significance since she acted as a surrogate for Obama at the summit.

The planned missile defense system was championed by the Bush administration as necessary to protect Europe from Iran. Russia, however, sees it as a Cold War-style project that could weaken its nuclear deterrent.

Obama has not been explicit about his intentions, saying it would be prudent to “explore the possibility” but expressing some skepticism about the technical capability of U.S. missile defenses.

Andrew Pierre, a diplomatic scholar at Georgetown University, said Medvedev could find a receptive audience in the new administration.

“What his task is going to be is to persuade the new American administration that Russians have legitimate concerns,” Pierre said.

He said for most of the U.S. foreign policy community, missile defense is not the most important issue in relations with Russia.

“It certainly isn’t worth the political result that it leads to, given that for us it’s tangential but for the Russians it’s core. It’s on their borders,” Pierre said.

Medvedev said his Nov. 5 speech _ his first state of the nation address _ was not “blackmail” intended to pressure the new president-elect.

He had postponed the address twice, which he said Saturday was because he was unhappy with the material that had been prepared. When he finally set the date, he said he forgot about the U.S. election. “It was nothing personal,” he said.