When Will the Recession Be Over?
Tumbling Dice

Recessions end, and this one will, too. But the sad truth is, the probability of leaving a recession once you are in one is about the same each month--about 8 percent. It is as if God rolls two dice each month, and the recession ends when he rolls a 10.

We are without question in a deep recession. According to a model developed by one of us that draws on past recession experience and has proved quite useful, the chance that we will be in recession in March is 92 percent, in April 85 percent, and so on.

Many of the key indicators look similar to what we've seen before. The decline in employment is above average for past recessions, but smaller than in the downturns of 1960-61 and 1981-82. Industrial production and manufacturing and trade sales have also slowed more than average, but not nearly as much as during the 1973-75 recession, when they declined by 14 percent. And the drop in personal income has been below the average of previous recessions, and even trended up in the last quarter of 2008. So the history books give us cause for hope.

The good news is that the odds of this recession lasting into the fourth quarter of 2009 are below 50 percent. But the dice will be thrown each month, and we could get lucky and be out earlier--or unlucky and be stuck in the doldrums.

Marcelle Chauvet is an associate professor of economics at the University of California, Riverside. Kevin A. Hassett is a senior fellow and the director of economic policy studies at AEI.

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About the Author

 

Kevin A.
Hassett
  • Kevin A. Hassett is the State Farm James Q. Wilson Chair in American Politics and Culture at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also a resident scholar and AEI's director of economic policy studies.



    Before joining AEI, Hassett was a senior economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and an associate professor of economics and finance at Columbia (University) Business School. He served as a policy consultant to the US Department of the Treasury during the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

    Hassett has also been an economic adviser to presidential candidates since 2000, when he became the chief economic adviser to Senator John McCain during that year's presidential primaries. He served as an economic adviser to the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign, a senior economic adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign, and an economic adviser to the Mitt Romney 2012 presidential campaign.

    Hassett is the author or editor of many books, among them "Rethinking Competitiveness" (2012), "Toward Fundamental Tax Reform" (2005), "Bubbleology: The New Science of Stock Market Winners and Losers" (2002), and "Inequality and Tax Policy" (2001). He is also a columnist for National Review and has written for Bloomberg.

    Hassett frequently appears on Bloomberg radio and TV, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, NPR, and "PBS NewsHour," among others. He is also often quoted by, and his opinion pieces have been published in, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

    Hassett has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College.

  • Phone: 202-862-7157
    Email: khassett@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Emma Bennett
    Phone: 202-862-5862
    Email: emma.bennett@aei.org

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