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Recession call at ivory tower pace

BusinessWeek reports "Why So Long to Call a Recession?"
 

Any call, if it comes, is going to take a while. The NBER usually takes 6 to 18 months to decide when a recession starts or ends. Hall's committee didn't announce the end of the 2001 recession until a full 20 months after the fact.

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Robert Hall, Chairman of Business Cycle Dating Committee

Hall says he's a hands-off manager of the process of identifying recessions. "These aren't people who can be directed," says Hall of the committee members. "These are people with a lot of expertise and awareness of what's happened in the past, but it's not a group that has a lot of disagreement." Discussion takes place by e-mail and frequently revolves around a mid-month message Hall sends to committee members containing economic data, including the monthly estimate of GDP growth, as calculated by the St. Louis consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers.  


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