Is the recession over?

According to a consulting firm I’ve never heard of, the economy is growing at a 2.4% rate in the third quarter. (Via Instapundit.) This needs to be taken with many grains of salt, since this isn’t based on any official numbers, and besides, we’re just two weeks into the third quarter. But let’s suppose it’s true, and remains so. Is the recession over?

In the old days, sure. A recession was defined as two or more quarters of negative growth. If growth is positive, you’re not in a recession.

But we’ve abandoned the old definition, which actually meant something, in favor of one based on rulings from the self-appointed arbiters of recession, the NBER. They ruled that we have been in a recession since the fourth quarter of 2007, despite two quarters of positive growth in the first half of 2008. Growth was actually 2.8% in the second quarter of 2008, greater than the 2.4% we are supposedly experiencing now, but according to the NBER, we were in recession nevertheless.

So whatever the numbers end up saying, it’s too early to say the recession is over, at least if you take the NBER’s ruling as definitive.

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