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 is the first to truly merit the comparison—at least based on measures of GDP.

The economic decline in 2020 is the first to approach the double-digit falloffs 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 more than -9%. This assumes the U.S. economy remains near its second quarter low point through the end of the year.


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