Recession? Yes, no, maybe……..

When I proposed to my wife, she was taken by surprise and responded: “Yes, no, maybe.”
I was reminded of that response while listening to all the conversations in recent days about whether or not the US already in, is about to be in, or will escape a recession.
A lot of the confusion relates to the question: “how do you define recession?” and “who gets to decide if it is a recession?”
And no, it’s not by Punxsutawney Phil looking for his shadow.

What is a recession?
The most common defintion of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. I used this defintion in my Are we already in a Recession? published on June 18th. This week’s preliminary Q2 GDP number was -0.9% which, following a first quarter print of -1.6%, ticked the GDP box.

If only life were that simple.

Who gets to decide if it is a recession?
Officially, it is the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee (I didn’t even know there was such a thing as cycle dating) that declares a recession. In its books, recession is “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months.”
Yet the last recession declared by the NBER — for the period from March to April 2020, when the country was hit by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic — met only the first half of that definition. It was the shortest recession in U.S. history. Historically, recessions have lasted for 17 months on average.

When will we know if we are in a recession?
The NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee takes a cautious approach to its job. It has typically taken the committee four to 21 months to declare a recession. It didn’t declare the recession that began in April 2001 until July 2003.

Are we in a recession?
Fed Chair Powell: “I don’t think it’s likely that the U.S. economy’s in a recession now.”
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese on Thursday argued that although economic growth is slowing, the economy as a whole is showing “extraordinary resilience,” and pointed to the jobs the nation has added in the past year. “We are in a transition, there’s no doubt. The economy is slowing and that is what most expected when coming off of an extremely strong and fast recovery last year. But all of the indications that we see right now are for an economy that’s showing extraordinary resilience in the face of global challenges,
President Biden: “Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth — and regaining all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis — it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation.”
“The odds are very high, perhaps over three quarters, that in the next year or two we will have a recession,” says Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary.

So the answer is…… yes, no, maybe

And these recent articles:
Economic and mortgage commentary
Federal Reserve tries to rewrite history
Has Inflation Peaked?
Have Mortgage Rates peaked?
Are we already in a Recession?
Federal Reserve in Fantasyland: Implications for Housing Market
Time to Consider an Adjustable Rate Mortgage
How Marblehead’s 2022 Property Tax Rate is calculated
Essex County 2022 Property Tax Rates: Town by Town guide

Market Reports
Essex County Mid-Year Market Summary in 5 slides
Massachusetts Mid-Year Market Summary in 5 slides
How quickly are houses selling?
Have Home Sales slowed?
June Housing Inventory: still way below 2020 levels.

Free Property and Mortgage Fraud alert notification for homeowners
Guide to Buying and Selling in Southwest Florida

If you – or somebody you know – are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, please contact me on 617.834.8205 or

Andrew Oliver, M.B.E.,M.B.A.
Market Analyst | Team Harborside |

m 617.834.8205

“If you’re interested in Marblehead, you have to visit the blog of Mr. Andrew Oliver, author and curator of He’s assembled the most comprehensive analysis of Essex County we know of with market data and trends going back decades. It’s a great starting point for those looking in the towns of Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Lynn and Swampscott.”

Andrew Oliver, M.B.E., M.B.A.
Real Estate Advisor

800 Laurel Oak Drive, Suite 400, Naples, FL 34108
m: 617.834.8205