Washington: President Barack Obama gets mediocre marks for his handling of the US economy, and Mitt Romney easily outpolls his Republican rivals in a newspaper survey of economists.

The economy, and who bears responsibility for it, is likely to be a decisive issue when voters to go the polls next November.
   
The economy is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. The housing market remains weak and a debt crisis in Europe threatens growth in 2012.

The unemployment rate is at a recession-level 8.6 percent, up from 7.8 percent when Obama took office in January 2009. That month, the recession was already more than a year old.
   
Half of the 36 economists who responded to the December 14-20 survey rated Obama's economic policies "fair." And 13 called them "poor." Just five of the economists gave the president "good" marks. None rated him as "excellent."

(Agencies)