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Builders Remain Optimistic in Uncertain Economy The U.S. economy contracted slightly in the third quarter of last year, and by the time you read these words, it’s all but certain that the fourth-quarter figures will show a further decline. As economists define the term, that means the economy will officially slip into recession for the first time since 1991. How bad will it get, and how will it affect builders? End of an era. The current downturn marks the end of the single longest period of economic expansion in postwar history. But for now, most economic forecasters — including NAHB economist David Seiders — predict that the slump will be relatively mild and short-lived. If the economists are right,