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The NBER website ( describes the key phases of the business cycle as follows: A recession is a significant decline in activity spread across the economy, that lasts more than a few months and is visible in industrial production, employment, real income, and wholesale-retail sales.

A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough.

A monthly indicator that moves with the economy The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has designated nine business cycles over the years from 1945 to 1991.

During this period, the average business cycle lasted about five years; the average expansion had a duration of a little over four years, while the average recession lasted just under one year.

The chart shows the periods of expansion and recession for the Composite Coincident Indicator Index from 1959 to 2002.

Recessions are periods when the economy is shrinking or contracting.Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion.Expansion is the normal state of the economy; most recessions are brief and they have been rare in recent decades., Iceland, June 18-19, 2004, hosted by Thorvaldur Gylfason at the University of Iceland, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.The program was organized by Richard Clarida and Francesco Giavazzi.