The Economy: The Naming Game

What can one call a business downturn that exhibits some but by no means all of the symptoms of a recession? Economists have long groped for an appropriate label—with painful semantic results. Paul McCracken, President Nixon's chief economic adviser, has suggested "recedence," and Former Federal Reserve Chairman William McChesney Martin once spoke of an economic "slope." Now the Manhattan-based National Bureau of Economic Research, the organization that decides which business movements merit the term recession, is joining the naming game. Ruminating about the present "episode," Vice President F. Thomas luster says: "We are thinking of labeling it a 'retardation.'...

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