Anatomy of the Current Recession


Tuesday August 24th, 2010   •   Posted by Robert Higgs at 4:22pm PST   •  

RecessionNot everyone has the stomach for perusing the national income and product accounts, but one who does can learn a great deal about what ails the present economy and about its prospects for returning to a healthier condition. (I draw the data I discuss here from Table B-2, Real Gross Domestic Product, 1960-2009, in the statistical appendix that accompanies the 2010 report of the president’s council of economic advisers.)

We’ve all been told, of course, that the real gross domestic product has fallen from its peak in the second quarter of 2008. The data show a fall of nearly 4 percent by the second quarter of 2009. Although this drop bears no serious comparison with the precipitous decline of real GDP during the Great Depression, about 30 percent between 1929 and 1933, it has certainly entailed a great deal of difficulty and frustrated expectations in a situation where many people had made plans based on their anticipation of ongoing economic growth. Between the second quarter and the fourth quarter of 2009, real GDP grew by about 2 percent, making up for roughly half of the preceding decline.




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