Are We In a Recession?

The short answer, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Economics Blog, is no:

The 87-year-old NBER, a nonprofit group of 600 academic economists, has become the unofficial arbiter of when recessions begin and end. Its definition of a recession: “A significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” A simple rule of thumb is two straight quarters of declining GDP, but that is not necessary for the group to declare a recession.

The NBER committee has been following the tracking data on monthly GDP by the forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers, but those figures haven’t moved enough to make a meaningful early determination. “It confirms what the employment numbers said,” Mr. Hall said. “At best the economy is flat right now. It stopped growing.” [link]

But not everyone on the NBER committee agrees about how likely a recession is. UC Berkeley’s Prof. David Romer is on the committee, along with along with wife and fellow Berkeley professor Christina Romer – they replaced Ben Bernanke in 2002.

See the NBER committee’s  individual takes on the likelihood of a recession.

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