The Ghosts Of Recession Past, Present, Or Future?

David Kotok profile picture
David Kotok


  • The popular definition of a recession is two or more consecutive quarters of real GDP declines. Indeed, almost all the recessions in US history fit this description.
  • While real GDP growth in the first half of the year was negative, it increased by a solid 2.6 percent (annualized rate) in the third quarter (the most recent period for which data are available).
  • Rather than relying on perhaps inaccurate forecasts, however, there are leading indicators that have been accurate predictors of previous recessions and expansions.

Economic Uncertainty Ahead Sign With Stormy Background


By David W. Berson, Ph.D.

In the spirit of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we look not at the ghosts of Christmas, but at the ghosts of recessions in the recent past, the present, and the near future.

Real GDP growth

Spread between 10-yr treasury yield and fed funds rate

Index of leading economic indicators

This article was written by

David Kotok profile picture
David Kotok co-founded Cumberland Advisors in 1973 and has been its Chief Investment Officer since inception. David’s articles and financial market commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio, Yahoo Finance TV, and other media. He has authored or co-authored four books, including the second edition of From Bear to Bull with ETFs and Adventures in Muniland. He holds a B.S. in economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in organizational dynamics from The School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.David has served as Program Chairman and currently serves as a Director of the Global Interdependence Center (GIC),, whose mission is to encourage the expansion of global dialogue and free trade in order to improve cooperation and understanding among nation states, with the goal of reducing international conflicts and improving worldwide living standards. David chaired its Central Banking Series and organized a five-continent dialogue held in Cape Town, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Milan, Paris, Philadelphia, Prague, Rome, Santiago, Shanghai, Singapore, Tallinn, and Zambia (Livingstone). He has received the Global Citizen Award from GIC for his efforts. David is a member of the National Business Economics Issues Council (NBEIC), the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), has served on the Research Advisory Board of BCA Research and is currently on the advisory board of RiskBridge Advisors. He has also served as a Commissioner of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and on the Treasury Transition Teams for New Jersey Governors Kean and Whitman. Additionally, he has served as a board member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and as Chairman of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

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