THERE has always been an element of risk that Washington's efforts to control the worst inflation since the Korean War would tip the U.S. economy into a recession. The Administration's policy of gradual slowdown has been shaped to avoid any pronounced increase in unemployment. Though a few pessimists have been issuing warnings for several months, the danger of recession has generally seemed remote. Rather suddenly, the mood has shifted. In the privacy of executive suites, top bankers and corporate leaders have begun to voice their fears that the U.S. might be sliding into an economic slump that could have important political...

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