The National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of recession dates, marked June 2009 as the end of the Great Recession.
With economic growth sliding to 1.6 percent in the second quarter and the jobless rate remaining at 9.6 percent, many say the recession continues.
Perhaps the most respected of those who say the recession hasn’t ended is Warren Buffett. "On any common sense definition, the average American is below where he was before in terms of real income, GDP,” the investment legend told CNBC.
“We're still in a recession. And we're not going to be out of it for a while, but we will get out of it. We've used up a lot of bullets. And we talk about stimulus. But the truth is we're running a federal deficit that's 9 percent of GDP. That is as stimulative as all get out.”
Star economist Nouriel Roubini also says we haven’t exited hard times. "The big risk is that there will be a downturn in markets that could impact the bond, the equity and the credit markets,” he told CNBC.
“There is no private sector job growth. Consumption is weak, exports are weak and housing is weak. If there is no final sales and no final demand, companies will not invest. We have to expect the new normal. We do not need a double dip for it to feel like recession."
Yale economist Robert Shiller is another bear. He sees a sizable chance of a double-dip recession, as the economy struggles to emerge from the credit crisis and the housing industry continues to sag.
We may have seven years of “bad times” ahead of us, he wrote in a commentary for the Project Syndicate web site.
“If you allow a financial market to spin wildly until it breaks down, it really does seem that you run the risk of years of economic malaise. That is the historical pattern.”
Jobs are the big issue, Shiller tells CNBC. “We haven’t been focused enough on the unemployment rate.”
Some experts say “Great Recession” is the wrong term in the first place. They argue that we’re now in a depression. Gluskin Sheff chief economist David Rosenberg is one of them.
“(We’re in) a depression, and not just some garden-variety recession," he wrote in a commentary obtained by CNBC.
The stock market’s recent rally may argue against a downturn. But Rosenberg sees it differently.
"Such is human nature, and nobody can be blamed for trying to be optimistic. However, in the money management business, we have a fiduciary responsibility to be as realistic as possible about the outlook for the economy and the market at all times," he wrote.
Market guru Robert Prechter, president of Elliott Wave, agrees with Rosenberg. “Economists have something very wrong,” he told CNBC.
“They are talking about a Great Recession and that it’s over. I think they’re wrong on both counts. What we have is a partial recovery in an ongoing depression.”
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