Reporting from Chemical Market Associates Inc.’s (CMAI; Houston) World Petrochemical Conference in April 2008, MPW noted that Arved Teleki, CMAI’s chief economist, countered many saying he believed the U.S. was already in a recession and would remain in one through the first half of 2008. “I am convinced that after Labor Day, we will see significant improvements.” The Labor Day holiday always falls on the first Monday in September. Two weeks prior to the CMAI event, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in testimony before the joint economic committee, admitted there was a possibility of a recession, traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction in gross domestic product (GDP). “We’re currently in a period of slow growth that began in the fourth quarter of last year. We expect it to continue through the first half of this year. It’s possible, not certain, but possible, that the first half of this year will be slightly contractionary.”
As 2008 winds down, it’s largely agreed that the current recession began in December of 2007, so that by press time, this downturn has already exceeded the post-World War II recession average of 10.5 months. The longest recessions on record lasted 16 months and occurred from 1973-74 and 1980-81.