Monday, April 12, 2010

NBER: "Premature" to Call end of Recession

by Bill McBride on 4/12/2010 08:59:00 AM

Business Cycle Dating Committee statement:

The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met at the organization’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on April 8, 2010. The committee reviewed the most recent data for all indicators relevant to the determination of a possible date of the trough in economic activity marking the end of the recession that began in December 2007. The trough date would identify the end of contraction and the beginning of expansion. Although most indicators have turned up, the committee decided that the determination of the trough date on the basis of current data would be premature. Many indicators are quite preliminary at this time and will be revised in coming months. The committee acts only on the basis of actual indicators and does not rely on forecasts in making its determination of the dates of peaks and troughs in economic activity. The committee did review data relating to the date of the peak, previously determined to have occurred in December 2007, marking the onset of the recent recession. The committee reaffirmed that peak date.
NBER always waits some time before declaring a recession over.

Cartoon Eric G. Lewis

Click on cartoon for larger image in new window.

Repeat of cartoon from Eric G. Lewis
It took the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee over a year and half after the 2001 recession ended to call the trough of the cycle. And it took 21 months after the 1990-1991 recession ended for NBER to date the end of the recession.

The previous NBER announcements make it clear that NBER will not date the trough of the recession until certain economic indicators - like real GDP - are above the pre-recession levels. Any downturn before economic activity reaches pre-recession levels will probably be considered a continuation of the recession that started in December 2007.

Here is the NBER dating procedure.