The NBER Defines Recessions and They Say it Started in December 2007
The news that we are in a recession is probably not news for most of you, but now it is officially defined. The only question now is how long and how deep. Text in bold is my emphasis. From Bloomberg:
The U.S. economy entered a recession a year ago this month, the panel that dates American business expansions said today.
The declaration was made by the cycle-dating committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, nonprofit group of economists based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The last time the U.S. was in a recession was from March through November 2001, according to NBER.
“The committee determined that the decline in economic activity in 2008 met the standard for a recession,” the group said in a statement on its Web site. The 1.2 million drop in payroll employment so far this year was the biggest factor in determining that start of the contraction, the group said.
The 73-month economic expansion, lasting from November 2001 to December 2007, was well short of the previous cycle that lasted a record 10 years. At 12 months, the current contraction is already longer than the last slump that covered the eight months from March to November 2001.
Although a recession is conventionally defined as two quarters of successive contraction in gross domestic product, the private committee doesn’t require supporting GDP data to make a recession call. Its members focus on month-to-month changes in the economy.
The U.S. economy shrank at a 0.5 percent pace in the third quarter after expanding 2.8 percent in the previous three months. Economists at Goldman Sachs group Inc. and Morgan Stanley in New York are among those projecting the economy will contract at a 5 percent pace this quarter.
Members of the committee are Stanford University professor Robert Hall; Martin Feldstein of Harvard University; Jeffrey Frankel, also of Harvard University; Northwestern University economics professor Robert Gordon; NBER president James Poterba; David Romer of the University of California at Berkeley; and Conference Board economist Victor Zarnowitz.