Comments: No Recession Yet?

Q407 was actually revised downward to negative 0.2%, and the main reason was a substantial downward revision in consumer spending. There's a reasonable possibility that Q1 will see a similar downward revision later this year.

Q2 was 0.4% below consensus expectations, and it would probably have been negative without the stimulus checks.

This was a very disappointing report.

The definition of recession is a little more complicated than "two consecutive quarters of negative growth," although that's a very good rule of thumb. Recessions are determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research, usually months after a recession actually starts. There are four main indicators: personal income, employment, industrial production, and manufacturing/wholesale/retail sales. All of these indicators are generally trending downward.

Posted by ChrisN at July 31, 2008 06:30 PM

True, there is no "official" definition of a recession though most leading economic voices generally agree on the two-quarters of negative growth rule of thumb.

It's really all perception. If you compare this to the Carter recession of 1980, forget about it. Back then there was double digit inflation, unemployment and interest rates?

The last two recessions (1991 & 2001) and, arguably, the present situation? No contest.

And the fact that GDP doubled from 1Q08 to 2Q08 is significant. Phooey on the tax refunds, people haven't changed their spending habits all that much.

When the latest iPhone sells out within two weeks, it's hard to argue that you're in a recession.

Posted by Gary at July 31, 2008 09:48 PM