Brad DeLong suggested a bit before the U.S. election that there was virtually no non-political reason for NBER not to admit the United States was in a recession.*
A little late, but they generally got it right. As Floyd Norris notes:
The National Bureau of Economic Research said today that the current recession began a year ago, in December 2007.
I’ve been arguing for some time that the recession started around then (between October 2007 and January 2008), but for much of that time it was a lonely vigil, with few economists in agreement until things fell apart in September.
I would still argue for October 2007;the “peak” in December was related more to a Certain Holiday than anything real. (It’s not called “Black Friday” in honor of workers who get trampled.) But at least they called it, which will make it more difficult to argue that “the recession started on Obama’s watch.”
Sorry, New Economist.