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Richard Berner and Jan Hatzius are two of Wall Street's top economists, in the employ of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, respectively. If the New York Times is to be believed, they're also preparing to fight each other for the world heavyweight title, possibly in Atlantic City, but almost certainly on the edge of an active volcano. Times reporter Nelson Schwartz describes their "sharp disagreement" over deflation as "yet another twist" in a "fierce rivalry" on par with that between "the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox." Like Frazier and Ali, Berner and Hatzius have the kind of differences that can only be settled with fire.

In this corner...

Jan Hatzius. Goldman Sachs. German. One of the few analysts the forecast the recession. Widely regarded as "Wall Street’s most prominent pessimist." Fears deflation. His "gloomy outlook is owed centrally to Americans’ slowdown in spending." Thinks deleveraging is proceeding too slowly. Believes the country needs "another round of stimulus spending by Washington to fend off the deflation risk he worries about."

In the other corner...

Richard Berner. Morgan Stanley. American. Also one of the few analysts to forecast the recession. Gives the American economy an "optimistic forecast, despite growing evidence in favor of Mr. Hatzius’s view." Doesn't fear deflation. Says deleveraging will prevent deflation. Thinks deleveraging is moving at just the right pace. "Skeptical" of the stimulus when it was first passed and still doubts it was "the right tool for the job."

These two fierce foes do agree on one thing, however: that "unemployment will remain at uncomfortably high levels for several years." Beyond that it's go time.

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