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The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) show that the American economy has experienced two consecutive quarters of negative real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product growth.

That accords with a popular definition of a recession. But economists have noted that any official declaration of a U.S. recession must come instead from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which carefully assesses various monthly macroeconomic indicators observed over extended periods.

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