Recession, Its Causes & Effects

It’s been a lot of time we hear of “Recession” going on in US market. Everyone is talking about recession. We cling to newspapers, television news channels, and financial reports only to discover “what next” in recession. Technically, recession means decline in GDP or Gross Domestic Product of a country for two consecutive quarters. Now, this explains recession only as a definition to remember. When we go more deep, we need to first understand the meaning of GDP. Gross Domestic Product is the value of all final goods and services produced in an economy in a given year. These final goods are those goods which are not transformed into other goods. These goods are evaluated as per their market value. It means when the value of all final goods and services produced in a given year declines for two consecutive quarters, the state is referred to as “recession”. It is visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales in an economy.

As per NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research), there have been ten recessions since 1945. From mid 1940s till 2007, the average recession lasted 10 months, while the average expansion lasted 57 months, giving us an average business cycle of 67 months or about 5 years and seven months. In this period, the shortest recession lasted only 6 months, from January to July 1980. The two longest recessions during this period lasted 16 months each, one extending from November 1973 to March 1975, and the other from July 1981 to November 1982. There was a noticeable decline in real GDP in both of these periods. The shortest expansion period from the mid-1940s until 2007 lasted only 24 months, from April 1958 to April 1960. The longest expansion continued from March 1991 to March 2001, setting a record of 120 consecutive months of growth. As luck would have it, United States has experienced only two relatively mild recessions and extended periods of expansion over the past 25 years.

There are various factors that flush an economy into the weird state of recession but Inflation is the main factor which contributes more towards the situation. Inflation is a condition of an economy when the prices of goods and services rise immensely over a period of time. The higher the rate of inflation, the smaller the percentage of goods and services that can be purchased with the same amount of money. This may be because of increased production costs, higher energy costs and national debt. When the prices of goods reach their ever higher stage, people tend to cut on overall spending, luxurious spending, restrict them towards basic necessities and thus save more n more. As a result, GDP declines when people begin to cut expenditures in order to cut down costs. This makes the companies to cut their costs as well and they chuck out workers which brings unemployment.

Thereby, following are some of the factors that push an economy into recession…..

  • Credit crunch – shortage of finance
  • Falling house prices – related to shortage of mortgages and credit crunch
  • Cost push inflation squeezing incomes and reducing disposable income
  • Collapse in confidence of finance sector causing lower confidence amongst ‘real economy’

Recession brings with itself all major consequences which create mayhem within the economy. One of the major effects of recession is Inflation. Recession comes into effect with inflation while on the other hand; it is one of the after effects of recession. This means the commodities reach their ever highest prices and people generally cut down on costs. Hence, inflation becomes the major effect left out by recession. Lower income is another effect of recession in the economy. As people cut down on costs, they tend to buy less which reduces the income and thereby fewer profits or no profits. The next consequence is the increment in mortgage rates. Lenders increase the mortgage rates in a bid to cover the losses they bear during that time. Employment opportunities are also one of the main targets when the economy is burning under recession. In order to cut down on costs, companies cut down on employment opportunities thereby leading with unemployment in the economy. So when an economy enters into recession, firms experience a decline in profitability. This is because:

1. Tendency for price wars to develop in a recession. Low sales encourage firms to cut prices

2. Falling sales will lead to lower revenues.