The world's largest economy sank into a recession in March, ending 10 years of growth that was the longest expansion on record in the United States, a group of economists that dates U.S. business cycles said Monday.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), composed of academic economists from Harvard, Stanford and other universities, joined a chorus of economists and investors who were saying that a recession had already begun. The group posted its decision on its Web site.
The NBER panel is composed of six economists, including Martin Feldstein, who served as chairman of former President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers.
"The NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee has determined that a peak in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in March 2001," the panel said in its announcement. "A peak marks the end of an expansion and the beginning of a recession."
It ruled that the long expansion ended in March and the nation's tenth recession since the end of World War II began at the same time. The declaration means the longest expansion lasted exactly 10 years. The previous record for uninterrupted economic growth was set in the 1960s, a period of eight years and 10 months lasting from February 1961 to December 1969.
The country's last recession begin in July 1990 and lasted until March 1991. But he NBER did not officially declare the downturn over until December 1992. Democrat Bill Clinton used the economy's troubles as a major weapon in his successful campaign to unseat the first President Bush in 1992.
The group also said the economy might have been able to avoid a recession without the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, which all but shut down the economy for several days and has had a lasting impact on tourism, the airline industry and other businesses.
"The attacks clearly deepened the contraction and may have been an important factor in turning the episode into a recession," said a statement from the private,...
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