U.S. Recessions - Historical Note

  September 20, 2019

Historians and economists claim that there have been 47 recessions in the United States dating back to the Articles of Confederation, which was ratified in 1781. The duration and intensity of each recession has been unique, with various factors affecting economic conditions contingent on current circumstances.

Ironically, the recession during the early 80s from 1980 through 1982 was driven by inflation and rising interest rates creating an expensive and restrictive environment for consumers and businesses. Conversely, economists currently view any probable recession driven by an ultra-low rate environment and minimal inflation, believed to be a result of excessive stimulus created by the Federal Reserve and dismal economic growth projections.

Modern recessions occurring in the 19th century have resulted from financial crises and market driven events, while recessions that occurred in the 1800s were primarily driven by war and the weather due to the dependence on agriculture.

Talk of an upcoming recession in the news has been a focal discussion as low rates and weakening economic indicators create an argument for a recessionary environment. Economists and analysts see recessions as an economic cycle driven by expansions and contractions.

Sources: Federal Reserve; fred.stlouisfed.org/series/JHDUSRGDPBR and prepared by One Blue Window

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