Measuring Recessions

Measuring Recessions

Measuring Recessions

Measuring Recessions

Excerpt

The purpose of this report is to provide a set of measurements of past business cycle recessions with which any current recession can be compared. The contractions in business activity that the American economy has experienced from time to time have, of course, varied widely in severity. Yet even severe depressions have often begun gradually. How soon can a severe decline be detected? How do the relative declines in the various available measures of economic activity compare with one another as a contraction develops? How can one determine whether a contraction that is currently under way is already or is going to be smaller or larger than those that have occurred in the past? How can one judge when it is about to end? The measurements presented here suggest possible ways of providing answers to questions such as these. Although the body of the report deals with measurements for recessions that have already run their full course, we shall, at the end, show how the method has worked out from month to month during the recessions that began in 1957.

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