Economic booms and busts since the Great Depression

Economic hard times often draw comparisons to the Great Depression, but the pandemic-induced recession of 2020 may be the first to merit some amount of comparison — at least based on measures of GDP.

The economic downturn in 2020 — in its early stages — was the first to approach the degree of decline experienced during the 1930’s Depression or in 1946 when the U.S. economy de-militarized after World War II.

Since those periods, there have been ten recessions — none of which produced annual declines in Gross Domestic Product in excess of the -2.5% decline in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

In the end, it appears that 2020 will be modestly worse than 2009. The preliminary full-year estimate for 2020 is a decline of -3.5%. This represents a significant improvement from the start of the pandemic, when year-over year growth was down by a double-digit amount.

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