Moody's analyst: Odds of recession "almost even"

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, on CBS' "Face the Nation," Sept. 25, 2011.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at the capital markets and risk management firm Moody's Analytics, said Sunday that the odds of America dipping into another recession in the coming year are "almost even," and that in order for things to turn around, policymakers needed to "get it together" and act.

He said that the "political vitriol" in Washington had done "tremendous damage" to the U.S.' economic recovery, and that it "absolutely" increased the risk of another downgrade of the federal government.

Zandi, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, said that while the United States had not yet entered another recession, the risks are "very high."

"Given what happened in the stock market last week, given what's going on in Europe, I'd put the odds of recession in the next six, nine months at almost even," Zandi told CBS' Bob Schieffer.

The U.S. stock market plummeted hundreds of points last week, with the Dow suffering its worst two-day decline since Fall 2008. Meanwhile, a gridlocked Congress unable to agree on a temporary budget bill to fund the government past September 30 threatens to shut down the government for the second time in less than a year.

Zandi blamed Washington politics-as-usual for the economy's failure to improve more than it has.

"I think the political vitriol, the spectacle that occurred here in Washington this spring and summer did tremendous damage," Zandi said. "I think the economy at the beginning of the year had a lot of potential. We are creating a couple hundred thousand jobs per month. Unemployment was coming down. Then we went through this mess. It just eviscerated confidence. People were already nervous because of what we've all been through."

Zandi said lawmakers need to "get it together" and act.

"If businesses started laying off workers, that would be recession. But they certainly have frozen. And it's because of the political environment," he said. "So the key to turning this around in the next few months is policymakers need to get it together, and they need to act. The Federal Reserve needs to act and fortunately they did last week. But Congress and the Administration need to get it together."

"This is not a sustainable situation," he said. "We have to turn this around."