Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange - 
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Scott Jagow: The good news this morning is that the U.S. economy wasn't God awful in the third quarter. The government says the economy shrank at a rate of half a percent -- the same as the first estimate of GDP. The bad news is that this quarter, and especially next quarter could be very . . . yeesh. More now from Nancy Marshall Genzer.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: The biggest culprit in the third quarter: consumers. Our spending fell almost 4 percent. It was the biggest pull-back since 1980.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in September didn't help, either. It made the credit crunch worse -- corporate profits were down and companies curtailed their spending. Purchases aren't picking up in the current quarter, from October through December, despite the holidays.

Standard & Poor's chief economist, David Wyss:

David Wyss: A lot of people are afraid they're going to lose their jobs. On top of that, it's getting harder to borrow. The people that have been living beyond their means can't continue to do that, because the banks aren't lending 'em the money anymore.

Wyss doesn't think the economy will bottom out until the middle of next year.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.