U.S. factory activity contracted sharply in October, falling to its lowest in 26 years as the financial crisis ravaged the world's largest economy and its trading partners around the globe.
The one bright spot in the report was that its main gauge of inflation,
the prices paid measure, recorded its biggest one-month drop ever.
This should allow the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low to fight off what many fear will be a deep recession.
"Pretty grim. It means we're in a recession, it's as simple as that ... a pretty solid manufacturing recession," said Robert Macintosh, chief economist at Eaton Vance Corp in Boston. "The question is, 'How long or deep is it going to be?"'
Monday's data came a day before the U.S. presidential election and adds to the load of evidence indicating that whoever wins will face a monumental task in getting the economy back on track.
And that leads to our Fast Money Reader Poll. Once the election is decided do you expect the economy to improve?
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CNBC.com with wires