In probably one of the least surprising economic calls of all time, the Nation Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) officially declared an end to the longest expansion ever and the start of a new recession. As shown in the LPL Chart of the day, the record expansion lasted 128 months, twice the length of the average expansion.
The catch though—and there’s always a catch. This might have been the longest expansion ever, but the economy grew only 50% as measure by nominal GDP during these 10-plus years (including inflation), nearly the same as the average expansion, even though this expansion was twice as long.
“Here’s the big question. As the economy continues to open back up and the economic data improves, it isn’t a stretch to think this recession could be one of the quickest ever,” explained LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “The previous shortest recession ever was only six months in the early ‘80s, and if last week’s jobs number is the start of improving data, this recession could very well be even shorter.”
One of the top questions we’ve received as stocks soared amid a historically weak economy was how can stocks be up so much? It is so important to remember that stocks tend to rally well before a recession is over, sensing the better times ahead. In fact, we found stocks bottomed five months on average before the recession was over. If March was indeed the lows for stocks, we could be out of the recession by August, although we think it’s likely to be earlier.
Putting it all together, here’s a closer look at all the recessions since WWII, along with how earnings, gross domestic product (GDP), and the unemployment rate performed during those recessions.
We’ve been on record that this could be the shortest recession ever, as we didn’t see the typical excesses you usually see at the end of expansions, from too much spending and too much leverage, to too much confidence. This recession was self-induced to stave off the COVID-19 pandemic. For these reasons, although this recession will go down as one of the steepest on record, we do think it will also be one of the shortest.
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