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BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Another day, another downward revision to an estimate for GDP growth.

On Friday, JPMorgan economist Mike Feroli slashed his outlook for U.S. GDP growth over the next two quarters. He now expects the U.S. economy to grow 1% in the fourth quarter this year, down from his previous estimate of 2.5%.

More shocking, Feroli now expects U.S. GDP to grow a scant 0.5% in the first quarter of 2012, down from a previous target of 1.5%. By comparison, the U.S. economy grew only 0.4% in the first quarter this year.

"Global growth has disappointed and foreign growth forecasts have been taken lower," Feroli wrote in Friday's research note. "Risks of a recession are clearly elevated."

Feroli's sullen view of the U.S. economy comes on the heels of Citigroup economist Steven Wieting reducing his own view of economic growth. Wieting trimmed his full-year GDP growth target to 1.6% from 1.7%, and he now expects GDP to grow 2.1% next year, down from his previous estimate of 2.7%. Wieting also cut his earnings estimate for the

S&P 500

to $97 this year and $101 in 2012, down from $98 and $105, respectively.

"The positioning of the economy and pace of recovery to date (a mere 2.5% average growth rate in the past two years) do not suggest a new cyclical recession, rather an inability to mount a full recovery," Wieting writes in a research note. His view is exacerbated by potential "political paralysis and fiscal tightening steps," he adds.

Before Citi and JPMorgan each cut estimates, Morgan Stanley economist Joachim Fels noted on Thursday that the global economy is "dangerously close to recession." Despite that warning, Fels and the economics team at Morgan Stanley only lightly trimmed global GDP estimates to 3.9% in 2011 and 3.8% in 2012, from 4.2% and 4.5%, respectively.

Fellow Morgan Stanley economist David Greenlaw still expects some improvement in the second half of 2011 for U.S. economy, but he acknowledges that special factors that will aid that improvement will give way as sustained growth is dependent on job creation. Greenlaw now expects U.S. GDP to grow only 1.8% this year and 2.1% next year, down from previous estimates of 2.6% and 3%, respectively.

Economists are widely criticized for being late to the party. But given the number of downward revisions to GDP as well as the number of utterances of the dreaded R-word, the panic in the market has some justification. So far, though, economists have only whittled down their estimates to smaller growth targets. If they're going to continue to sound the recession alarm, one of these economists has to show he or she has the guts to give a negative GDP target.

To summarize, GDP estimates are being slashed left and right through 2012. Manufacturing activity is screeching to a halt, as evidenced by yesterday's -30.7 reading on the Philly Fed's manufacturing survey. Jobless claims keep rising. Equities keep plunging.

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That sound you hear isn't the growling of bears. It's the propeller of the plane Pimco's Bill Gross is piloting. He's dumping pamphlets explaining "The New Normal" from the sky all across America.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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