Is the recession over yet? Not until I say so

It's the economic version of the kids in the backseat asking "Are we there yet?" The masses would like to know already whether the Great Recession is over yet. The short answer: Not officially. At least not according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, considered the U.S.'s semi-official recession arbiter. (Problem is, of course, that this same committee took about a year longer than the rest of us to even figure out that we were in a recession.)

This high-falutin' committee wasn't ready to officially pronounce us out of the economic woods today. But unofficially, the answer to whether the recession is over resides a little closer to home. Simply put, if you're still asking the question, it probably hasn't ended for you personally -- which frankly, is the only answer that really matters at the end of the unemployed day.

What makes the situation so laughable -- that's laughable in a maniacal kind of way -- is that the world is so eager to have this misery end that publications and experts have been proclaiming the recession over since the spring of 2009 -- with most of the proclaimers hoping to be recorded in history as the one able to say "I told you so first."

First we had Forbes telling us that the recession was over in May 2009. That's when weekly columnists Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein wrote "When the NBER eventually gets around to declaring the recession end date, we think it will be May 2009." Fellas, you're off by a year. So far.

Their logic was that new unemployment claims were "the very best single indicator of the end of a recession." They wrote that the monthly average for claims normally peaks a month or two before the economy bottoms out, and that claims appeared to have peaked in March 2009 at 658,000 versus April's 635,000 unemployed bodies hitting the unemployment office. Maybe they want to tell that to the 23 million or so people who opened new unemployment claims since then. Remind me not to go to the track with those two.