Is the recession over?

Is the recession over? Not bloody likely. First of all, calling the current economic contraction a recession is like calling Bubonic Plague a slight illness. We are clearly in the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. Secondly, the official organization that dates recessions -- the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) -- defines the current recession based primarily on job losses -- not two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction.

And by that measure the NBER judged that the recession began in December 2007. With about 6.5 million jobs lost since then and another 546,000 initial jobless claims in the most recent July week for which statistics are available, it is difficult to see how anyone could make the claim that the recession is over. To be fair, that number is down from previous months but it still suggests a substantial number of lost jobs.