The committee that officially determines when recessions begin and end is reluctant to call this one over, because there may be a double dip.
“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,” the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee said in a statement.
The economy started growing in the second half of last year, surging 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter. But consumer spending remains sluggish, and unemployment has dipped only a bit from its peak – to 9.7 percent.
The recession began in December 2007.
Committee members are worried that the good news might not last. “Many indicators are quite preliminary at this time and will be revised in coming months,” the statement said.
It added that the committee acts only on actual statistics and not on forecasts.
“The odds favor the view that a true expansion has begun and that the recession beginning in 2007 is over,” committee member Robert Hall, a Stanford economist, told The New York Times.
“(But) one cannot totally rule out the unlikely possibility that the economy might resume contraction again soon.”
CNBC commentator Jim Cramer thinks the recession is over.
“I think that it’s the psychological that clouds the picture,” he said. “People don’t feel it.”
Given the job market weakness, that’s hardly surprising.
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