Lowe's, AutoZone have 'more cushion to deal with' slowing economy -analyst

STORY: The NBER, the official arbiter of recessions in the United States defines a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators."

Still, government data last week showing a second straight quarter of negative GDP - which meets a popular rule-of-thumb definition for recessions - has fanned widespread debate over whether the U.S. economy is in fact in a downturn.

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