Economic booms and busts since the Great Depression

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

The economic downturn in 2020 is 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.

An early estimate for 2020 is a decline of about -6%. This assumes the U.S. economy remains somewhere between its second and third quarter levels through the end of the year.


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