The economic cycle that just won't end

Corporate behaviour has played a major role in keeping the U.S. economy expanding longer.

John Rekenthaler 18 October, 2018 | 5:00PM

The National Bureau of Economic Research measures the current economic expansion in the United States at 111 months and counting. The current period is the second-longest expansion of NBER's 160-year history, behind only the 1991-2001 boom. That both events are recent is no accident. Of the 34 expansions chronicled by NBER, the past four are each among the six lengthiest.

(The two others occurred during World War II and in the 1960s, making them also relatively modern.)

Some would say this comes from better governance. Others disagree, lamenting the passing of the gold standard, or regularly bemoaning the Federal Reserve's decisions. I cannot adjudicate such claims. My central-banking knowledge could fit on the back of a large postage stamp, while remaining legible. But I do know that today's business cycles are longer and calmer, and that regardless of macroeconomic issues, corporate behaviour has played a major role in the change.

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John Rekenthaler

John Rekenthaler  John Rekenthaler is Vice President of Research for Morningstar.

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