"ALMOST six out of ten Americans believe that the country is already in a recession. Although most forecasters still expect a formal recession will be avoided (typically putting the odds at around 40%), not everyone agrees. The Economist’s informal R-word index is also sounding alarms. Our simple formula pinpointed the start of recession in 1981 and 1990 and 2001. Although the number of stories is still lower than before previous recessions, the recent jump—if sustained for a quarter—is similar to that which preceded the 2001 downturn."