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Finance
5 min read

What Is A Recession?

The word recession has dominated the news recently. Depending on who and what you take notice of, information can appear contradictory. One week we are told that recession is looming then the next week we are in one, just to see different information telling us we have narrowly avoided one.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
January 29, 2024

The word recession has dominated the news recently. Depending on who and what you take notice of, information can appear contradictory. One week we are told that recession is looming then the next week we are in one, just to see different information telling us we have narrowly avoided one.

The world of economics is a complex and ever changing one. Just the one word is one that can unsettle individuals, businesses and governments alike and can have a profound impact.

Essentially, an economic recession is a significant and prolonged decline in economic activity. This decline can manifest in various forms which include reduced consumer spending, decreased investments within businesses, increased unemployment rates and a general slowing down in the growth of GDP, or gross domestic product. Periods of recession can range in severity from mild to severe and have the capacity to disrupt countries as a whole.

A key indicator of a recession is a negative GDP growth for two consecutive quarters but also other factors which include employment rates play a vital part in identifying and characterising a recession.

Causes of recessions are multifaceted and can and do vary. Common triggers include financial crises such as the loss of assets or other crises which can lead to a loss of confidence in the financial system. Additionally, external and unexpected shocks such as natural disasters or conflicts can send shockwaves through the economy. Also, changes in consumer behaviour - perhaps reduced spending due to economic uncertainty - can contribute to a recession.

Governments and banks play pivotal roles in managing and mitigating the effects of a recession and can employ various tools such as adjusting interest rates or cutting taxes in an attempt to stimulate growth. Governments often implement fiscal policies to stimulate economic growth during a recession which can include increased government spending, tax cuts or initiatives to boost infrastructure projects.

Of course, recessions can have far reaching consequences for individuals and businesses as job security can be compromised and businesses may struggle to adapt with reduced revenues, closures or restructuring. Unemployment may rise with associated job losses, spending may be impacted and the housing market may fluctuate in response.

Recognising the warning signs, understanding the contributing factors and implementing appropriate policies are crucial steps in navigating and mitigating the impact of a recession on all levels. By grasping the dynamics and the concept of a recession, both individuals and businesses can be better prepared to respond to the economic challenges that do arise periodically.

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