President Bush denied Tuesday that the United States' economy is in recession, calling it instead a "slowdown."
He pointed out that the economy grew in the last quarter of 2007 and that figures are not yet in for the first quarter of 2008. A common rule of thumb says a recession is two consecutive quarters of the gross domestic product shrinking.
But in the United States, an official declaration of a recession is made - often after a recovery has already begun - by a committee from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private organization.
It defines a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity" over a period of a several months, and takes into account the depth of the decline, not just the duration, according to the NBER's Web site. It also uses a broad array of indicators in addition to the GDP, it says.
The United States has not been in recession since 2001, but many economists expect a recession this year. Some economists have said the United States is already experiencing one, and surveys suggest much of the public agrees.