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TWO

Surveying the Damage

The collapse of the housing bubble has produced a more severe downturn than most economists would have ever imagined possible and more serious than all but the oldest Americans have seen in their lifetime. By the middle of 2009, the unemployment rate had already hit 9.5 percent. As of this writing, the economy was still shedding several hundred thousand jobs a month. And although the rate of decline had slowed from earlier in the year (largely as a result of the impact of the stimulus package), when the economy was shedding close to 700,000 jobs a month, the unemployment rate is still virtually certain to cross 10 percent ...

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