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On the radar: It’s official. The NBER says the recession started in March 2020

It took the NBER only a short time – a mere four months after it occurred – to announce the peak of the expansion that began in July 2009 reached its peak in February 2020. After a record 128 months of expansion, a recession officially determined to have begun in March 2020.

In declaring a turn in the economy the NBER said, “Because a recession is a broad contraction of the economy, not confined to one sector, the committee emphasizes economy-wide indicators of economic activity. The committee believes that domestic production and employment are the primary conceptual measures of economic activity.” They further said, “The committee normally views the payroll employment measure, which is based on a large survey of employers, as the most reliable comprehensive estimate of employment. This series reached a clear peak in February.” As for production, the NBER said, “The most comprehensive monthly measure of aggregate expenditures, which includes roughly 70 percent of real GDP, is monthly real personal consumption expenditures (PCE), published by the BEA. This series reached a clear peak in February 2020.”

It is possible that after the annual revisions to GDP in the summer months that the data may look a bit different, but it is unlikely the NBER will find any reason to revise its June 8 announcement.

Now the question is, when will the recession end?

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