Since 1990, most of California has been sliding economically. The housing market in Southern California has been hit particularly hard, and mortgage lenders in the area have been forced to downsize or close up shop.

But 1996 is going to be the year that ends all this, according to many industry observers. Some are predicting a rapid recovery, some foresee far less dramatic changes - but almost all say 1996 will mark the end of adverse economic conditions.

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