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A sign is displayed in front of a foreclosed home on March 12, 2010 in Bridgeport, Conn.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Web searches for the phrase "double-dip recession" have soared since April, according to Google



Double dip recession searches from the U.S. over the past 12 months

Bad economic signs

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  • Government stimulus spending aimed at preventing a global economic collapse is running out.
  • Canadian inflation has been soft.
  • Persistent weakness in U.S. employment, durable goods orders and the real estate sector.

Good economic signs

  • Most of the world's economies have been growing this year, and are forecast to continue to do so (though at a slower pace).
  • Canadian home prices continue to rise.
  • The rapid growth with which most economies exited the recession was unsustainable, so a slowdown in growth is expected.

Defining one recession

Traditional

Two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.

Official (U.S.)

"A recession is a significant decline in activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, visible in industrial production, employment, real income, and wholesale-retail trade ... The [NBER]gives relatively little weight to real GDP because it is only measured quarterly and it is subject to continuing, large revisions." - National Bureau of Economic Research (U.S.)

What's a double-dip recession?

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  • A recession followed by a brief recovery, then another recession.

What causes them?

  • Generally, high unemployment and spending cutbacks in the first recession.

What does a double dip look like?

  • Some believe the U.S. recession of the early 1980s was a double-dip, or W-shaped recession.
  • The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research disagrees, saying there were two separate recessions.

Recessions compared (Canada)

Period

Duration

Drop in GDP

2008-09

12 months

3.3%.

1990-92

16 months

3.4%.

1981-82

24 months

3.7%.

What the experts say:

Ben Bernanke, U.S. Federal reserve chairman.

He said in June he doesn't believe the U.S. will slide back into a recession. But in July he said the outlook for the U.S. economy is "unusually uncertain."

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Mark Carney, Bank of Canada governor

In July, Mr. Carney pointed to expected economic growth rates of three per cent and said the probability of a double dip recession in Canada or the U.S. is "very low."

David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff

Chances are better than 50-50, the always bearish economist says.



Nouriel Roubini, NYU professor

Odds are better than 40 per cent, the super-bear says.

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Sources: National Bureau of Economic Research, U.S. Department of Labour, U.S. Commerce Department, Investopedia, Statistics Canada, Reuters

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