The official recession
“The National Bureau of Economic Research has finally confirmed what the real world has known for at least a year,” said Irwin Kellner in MarketWatch. Namely, the U.S. is “well into its 11th postwar recession.” The NBER, the unofficial arbiter of U.S. recessions, says that this one started in December 2007. Knowing the start date helps us predict the end, and "in my view, the most likely outcome” is a longer-than-average recession that could end before May.
That’s a little optimistic, said Steve Benen in Washington Monthly online. Only two post-war recessions have been longer—November 1973 to March 1975, and July 1981 to November 1982—and the NBER’s data “suggests the current recession is very likely to be the longest since the Great Depression.”
Unsurprisingly, “Wall Street did not take the news well,” with the Dow dropping 7.7 percent, said Susan Tompor in the Detroit Free Press. But the official confirmation of a recession “really wasn’t much news to many of us.” With friends being laid off, rising foreclosures, and empty stores and restaurants, “we could feel in our bones—and our pocketbooks and 401(k) plans—that we were in a painful recession.”
Well, the recession couldn’t have happened without our help, said the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an editorial. Our inflated housing values had to fall, but while the going was good, “everyone was in on the deal: individuals, banks, regulators, and government.” President Bush didn’t cause it, but he “helped bring about the recession” by pushing “no taxes and no money down” on wars and government services. Now “the bill is due.”