apple.jpgSome investors reckon the U.S. economy is in recession and undergoing a W-shaped pattern of growth — that is decline, temporary recovery, decline again, then rebound.

Fortis Investments is one such believer and is telling its clients that they are currently in the second down phase. That implies a rebound is coming, but Fortis is not ready to say when. Not anytime soon, is all it suggests.

One quick gauge of a country’s economy, meanwhile, is to drop into a popular shopping area and see what people are doing. Purely subjectively, a visit last week to two malls in the United States — in Maryland and Virginia — suggested things are pretty bad.

Fewer shoppers than usual, very few carrying actual purchases — the bag test — and sales on at just about every shop.

One exception: traffic at one Apple Store was heavy enough that customers wanting to enter were queueing behind a rope outside.