The American Bankers Association's economic advisory committee predicted that the gross national product will decline 0.3 percent in 1991 but that the recession will be short and mild, assuming that the gulf war lasts less than six months.


Fidelity Investments, the nation's largest mutual fund operator, will lay off 226 workers because the slumping economy has weakened investor activity.

MCI will reduce its long-distance telephone rates by $13 million, or less than 1 percent, effective tomorrow, because of cuts in prices it pays to local telephone companies to begin and end long-distance calls.

Thalhimer Bros. department stores of Richmond is laying off about 200 employees at its 26 stores, or about 3 percent of its total work force.

American Airlines's pilots union rejected a contract proposal as 15 months of negotiations between the two sides continued to produce no results.

General Instruments and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology joined forces to propose an all-digital HDTV system to the FCC.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia's largest newspaper, laid off 133 people and left 122 other positions unfilled because of declining advertising revenue.

Bethlehem Steel's chairman, Walter F. Williams, said its domestic industry shipments will decline 7 percent this year. The company also said its recently announced restructuring and a joint venture produced a fourth-quarter loss of $517 million.


Air France is adding a surcharge on flights to and from the Mideast because of increases in insurance premiums. Iberia, the Spanish airline, meanwhile, canceled more international flights due to fears of terrorist attacks. Separately, the EC and 12 European airlines said they are forming a panel to help address the decline in air travel due to the war.

The EC agreed to offer to slash subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus Industrie by up to 45 percent.

Japan's vehicle exports fell by 0.9 percent in 1990, the fifth consecutive year it has declined, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said.

South Korea formed a working group with the United States in an effort to mitigate growing trade frictions between the two countries.


Atlantic Richfield and Union Carbide each agreed to pay $1 million civil penalties for an antitrust violation in Arco's $220 million sale of two product lines to Union Carbide, the Justice Department said.

NCR said the federal appeals court in Manhattan stayed until Tuesday an order that requires the computer company to turn over a list of its stockholders to AT&T as part of the phone firm's $6.1 billion bid for NCR.

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association filed an unfair trade petition with the U.S. government, charging that Thailand has failed to protect pharmaceutical patents.


McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics received Navy contracts for Tomahawk sea-launched cruise missiles. McDonnell Douglas's contract is for $253.9 million for 240 missiles, and General Dynamics's is for $188.6 million for 160.

AT&T signed a three-year, $60 million contract with Hospitality Franchise Systems to provide long-distance services to rooms in 950 Howard Johnson and Ramada hotels.


Oil companies reported mixed results in the fourth quarter. Sun Co. posted a profit of $18 million, compared with a loss of $173 million in the same period of 1989, and Kerr-McGee posted a 34 percent increase in earnings. But Occidental Petroleum cited a restructuring in reporting a $2 billion loss, compared with the $30 million profit in the same period in 1989, while Tenneco said its earnings were down 37 percent.

Du Pont reported 1990 earnings were down 7 percent from the year before and fourth-quarter earnings fell 3 percent.

Compaq Computer reported a 36 percent increase in earnings in 1990 and a 70 percent surge in the fourth quarter.

Knight-Ridder said its 1990 earnings fell 39.7 percent, and its fourth-quarter earnings dropped 32.2 percent.

Philip Morris said its 1990 earnings surged 20.2 percent, while its fourth-quarter earnings edged up 2 percent.

Allied-Signal said earnings dropped 8.5 percent in 1990 and fell 7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Multimedia reported its 1990 profits rose 17.8 percent and its fourth quarter earnings rose 9.7 percent.


Martha Seger, a former Federal Reserve Board governor who was long at odds with the central bank staff, accused it of having little real-world experience, having little feeling for the effects of its decisions and having some sexist attitudes toward women. Some colleagues have said Seger was overly concerned with the impact of Fed policies on her home state of Michigan and its automotive industry.

Charles A. Lyons, president of DCI Publishing Inc., owner of the area's largest chain of weekly newspapers, including the Reston Connection and the Alexandria Gazette-Packet, was replaced by the company's co-owner, developer Peter C. Labovitz. Lyons's departure from the Alexandria-based company follows unsuccessful efforts to sell the chain. The company also has laid off 13 of 50 editorial workers and will close three of its four editorial offices in Fairfax County.

James R. Jones, chairman of the American Stock Exchange and a former House Budget Committee chairman, is the new chairman of the American Business Conference, a group of fast-growing, mid-size companies.