"We are officially declaring that the economy has fallen into a recession."
So declared Bank of America (BAC 1.99%) in a note to its clients reported by CNBC on Thursday morning, before explaining what this means for workers and investors.
"Jobs will be lost, wealth will be destroyed and confidence depressed."
If you've been watching the stock market over the past few weeks, of course, this comes as no great surprise. Since hitting their highs on or about February 20, shares of Amazon.com, the nation's biggest e-tailer, are down 10%, and Target stock is down 11%. Restaurant megachain McDonald's has shed 30% of its market capitalization, hotelier Marriott is down 52% -- and don't get me started on the airlines or cruise lines!
Sadly, things could get worse before they get better.
What does this all mean?
Bank of America predicts that, as bad as the stock market looks here at the tail end of the year's first quarter already, the rest of the economy is going to simply "collapse" in the second quarter, with GDP contracting 12%. Unemployment rates could double as we lose 1 million jobs per month, probably adding 3.5 million to the unemployment rolls by the time all's said and done.
America is "joining the rest of the world" in recession, concludes the bank, "and it is a deep plunge."
But will things get better?
Eventually, says the bank. "Although the decline is severe, we believe it will be fairly short lived," and after the economy has a chance to rebound and make up some of its losses, the total hit to GDP for the full year should be a contraction of less than 1%.
Here's hoping that's as bad as it gets.