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While most economists and experts, such as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, don’t think the country’s headed for a recession, 60 percent of poll respondents in a new LA Times/Bloomberg poll said a recession within the next year was “somewhat or very likely.”

Two-thirds said they thought the country was “seriously off on the wrong track.” This is down from 70% in a similar poll last month but otherwise the highest in 12 years.

But the respondents were more optimistic on real estate prices:

Nearly a third of those polled predicted home values in their neighborhood would increase in the next six months. Only 16% anticipated a decrease. The rest said values would hold steady.

Call it foolish faith or bold optimism, the forecast is at odds with the downward trend of home prices.

The National Assn. of Realtors recently reported that prices fell 2.7% in the last three months of 2006. Many economists expect real estate to have a rough ride this year, partly because of rising mortgage loan defaults.

The story also includes a graphic to show specific data for the questions and answers used in the poll.

KELLY BENNETT

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