Something worth repeating, seeing as it’s the hot topic, these days.
Simple concept, really.
From Wikipedia (which you can trust, implicitly, right?)
A recession is a decline in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year. (** A more complete definition, at bottom.)
So, we may not technically be “in” a recession, or heading toward one (I don’t think we are, btw), but that doesn’t mean things aren’t great, overall.
** In the United States, GDP is officially tracked by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. An alternative, less accepted definition of recession is a downward trend in the rate of actual GDP growth as promoted by the business-cycle dating committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research. That private organization defines a recession more ambiguously as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.”
A recession may involve simultaneous declines in coincident measures of overall economic activity such as employment, investment, and corporate profits. Recessions may be associated with falling prices (deflation), or, alternatively, sharply rising prices (inflation) in a process known as stagflation. A severe or long recession is referred to as an economic depression. A devastating breakdown of an economy (essentially, a severe depression, or a hyperinflation, depending on the circumstances) is called economic collapse.
Newspaper columnist Sidney J. Harris distinguished terms this way: “a recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose your job.”
Market-oriented economies are characterized by economic cycles, but actual recessions (declines in economic activity) do not always result. There is much debate, sometimes ideologically motivated, as to whether government intervention smoothes the cycle (see Keynesianism), exaggerates it (see Real business cycle theory), or even creates it (see monetarism).