great recession (Great Recession)

Great recession is a label used by journalists and economists to describe a severe, prolonged economic downturn.

Some economists trace the most recent great recession to the collapse of the United States housing market in 2007. Exposure to sub-prime mortgages put global investment banks such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in jeopardy, triggering a financial crisis that ultimately required a bank bailout in the U.S.  The recession officially ended in June 2009, although many segments of the economy continue to struggle with job losses and stagnant growth.

Unlike the financial crisis caused by the collapse of the Internet dot com bubble in the early 2000s, when IT budgets and workforces were slashed and many chief information officers (CIOs) lost their jobs, enterprise IT shops and CIOs have fared somewhat better during the 2007-2009 financial crisis. After the first tech bust, many CIOs began running lean IT operations and were already using information technology to automate processes.  They continued to look for efficiencies to counteract employee layoffs and budget cuts in business units when the great recession hit, spurring on further adoption of agile software development methods, interest in cloud computing and additional uses of onshore and offshore outsourcing.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the government agency in charge of declaring a recession in the United States, a recession is a significant decline in economic activity lasting more than a few months. Although NBER doesn't officially recognize the term "great recession," the Asssociated Press does. In February 2010, the AP added Great Recession to its style guide, with the explanation that Great Recession (when capitalized) refers specifically the recession that began in December 2007 and became the longest and deepest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. 


This was last updated in March 2012

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