Stocks plunged Tuesday on fears that the weakening economy is headed back into recession. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell by a whopping 265 points, capping a painful eight-day losing streak — the longest since the financial crisis in October 2008. Bad economic news has been piling up — unemployment remains high, economic growth has come to a near halt, and now the Commerce Department says consumer spending just fell for the first time in two years. Are we heading into the dreaded double-dip recession?

Yes. We are tumbling toward another recession: The last-minute debt deal did nothing to lift the economy out of its "appalling state," says Annie Lowrey at Slate. Our "horrible growth figures" — a 0.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter and 1.3 percent in the second — are magnified by our "horrible jobs figures" — 14.1 million Americans are unemployed. "In short, the recovery has completely stalled and the economy is perilously close to double dipping back into recession."
"The coming double dip"

A slump, yes. A recession, no: The pain of the 2008 crash is still fresh, says Gary Thayer in the Midland, Texas, Reporter-Telegram, so people are still worried about financial catastrophe. But the leading economic indicators — which include data not just on growth, but prices, productivity, and more — are "more positive than negative." It's easy to forget when Americans' economic anxieties are spiraling, but the truth is, "the economy is poised to continue expanding in the months ahead, albeit perhaps at a more modest pace."
"Leading indicators continue pointing in positive direction"

Rcession or no, the economy is tanking: It seems clear that the economy is already "on the brink of its second recession in three years," says Douglas A. McIntyre at The Atlantic. But even if we don't technically enter a recession, the economy is in undeniably terrible shape. The battered housing market is a huge economic drag, investments are yielding less, and nervous banks won't lend to job-creating small businesses. The government is done propping things up — the 2009 stimulus has run out, and the new debt deal calls for spending cuts. Plus, state and local governments are eliminating 450,000 jobs. Look out below. 
"10 signs a double-dip recession is around the corner"