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Recession or Not, the Recovery Has Ended

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(AP File Photo/John Locher)
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Whether a recession is eventually declared, the message from the latest economic data is just as sobering: The recovery is, effectively, over.

Monthly data suggest consumer spending is flat or falling, especially on goods, and not just big-ticket durables. Spending on groceries is actually down over the last six months. Inflation has masked the scale of the slowdown.

To some extent this inflection point isn’t surprising. The recession that began with pandemic lockdowns in 2020 was the deepest and shortest on record, and the recovery that followed was exceptionally strong, quickly restoring economic output and unemployment to prepandemic levels. Thus, the recovery phase was bound to be short as well.

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