"Credit has tightened for people who are in risky businesses," Glassman said. "A lot of people think this is a threat to the economy, but I personally think it is a way we ration credit. It isn't like the old days where you couldn't get credit no matter what the price."
Not all economists believe the current slowdown will last. Goldstein, the Conference Board economist, expects the economy to heat up again later this year and into early next year, and that the Federal Reserve Board will be forced to raise interest rates again.
"This should be a bang-up Christmas season," he said. "Consumers are confident and they have got money to spend."
Not even a falling stock market is a heavy drag on the economy, he said. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, which is a broad measure of the market, has fallen about 13 percent from its March 24 high of 1,527, and the Nasdaq composite index has plunged about 44 percent since its March 10 high of 5,048.
"Yes, the Nasdaq has come down ... but that doesn't mean the economy is about to fall off the cliff next week," Goldstein said. "You get all kinds of stuff that happens ... while the real economy keeps humming along."
Despite the slowdown, some companies are still having problems hiring enough workers to meet demand. Peter Martin, chairman and chief executive of Provident Bankshares Corp., said the company is "using every kind of innovative approach we can to hire new employees."
Provident has held job fairs, it has hired a human resources specialist to interview candidates, and it is offering employees cash bonuses for people they refer to the company who land jobs.
None of this, however, means that the country won't eventually slip into recession.
Goldstein expects a recession in late 2001 or 2002 as unemployment rises and growth slows to zero or maybe even contracts. But he believes it will be a short recession, one that the country "skips" out of.
Wyss gives a recession a 1-in-3 chance between now and the year 2002. "The Fed is trying to slow the economy down ... there is always a risk of them going too far," he said.