DEPRESSING DATA

Shrinking Economy Sinks Stocks

The economic picture of the fourth quarter of last year was even bleaker than previously thought. As consumers reduced spending, companies cut production, and exports dropped, the U.S. GDP contracted at 6.2 percent, worse than expectations and a clip not seen since 1982. "Consumer spending, which comprises about 70 percent of the economy, declined at the fastest pace in almost three decades," Bloomberg reported. And with no light at the end of the tunnel, markets tumbled out of the gate this morning both in New York and in Europe. "There has been no evidence that the pace of decline is slowing at all, there are other shoes waiting to drop," one economist said.