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Government fortune-telling costs big money -- about $50 million a year.

Some 24 federal agencies and departments issue economic forecasts. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) of Texas wants to cut back on prognosticators. If agencies need economic predictions, let them call the Council of Economic Advisers or the Congressional Budget Office, Bentsen says. He is considering legislation to ax excess economic forecasting.

Some unlikely agencies are in the forecasting business, including the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Department of Education, and Congress' own watchdog agency, the General Accounting Office. It was the GAO that compiled the list of agencies with their own forecasters that Bentsen uses.m

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