Ask an economist what a recession is, and you'll likely get the answer ''a decline in gross domestic product lasting two or more consecutive quarters.'' ( Gross domestic product, or GDP, is the total value of goods and services produced in a country.) At the time of this writing, America isn't officially in a recession (although many analysts say it's just a matter of getting the numbers that'll prove that the second-quarter decline has actually occurred), but the economy is definitely in a downturn. Home values are falling, employment is down, real income is down, and energy costs are skyrocketing. So how long will this downturn last? No one knows. Some think it'll be over in a matter of months; others predict the recession could last a year or longer. None of this is good news. Fortunately, you can do more than cross your fingers and hope for good luck.... In uncertain times, you may find yourself, despite your best efforts, facing a financial catastrophe like a bankruptcy or foreclosure. Even in these circumstances, you still have options-maybe not many, and maybe not pleasant ones, but options that can help you weather even these storms. Bottom line: In a stumbling economy, you have to tread carefully, but you can still move forward. This book helps you one step at a time.