A Fun-Free Recovery

What does the economic world look like when the recession ends? Grim and grimmer

J Pat Carter / AP

The recession is nearing its end. At least, it seems to be. A generally improving trend in the economic data has forecasters saying the downturn will turn into an upturn sometime between early this summer (the optimistic view) and late next winter (the pessimistic one).

But here's my assessment: So what? A recession is defined by the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the semiofficial arbiter of such matters, as a "significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy." It's certainly better for economic activity to be increasing rather than decreasing, but the focus on...

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