The Financial Flipside Podcast, Episode 23: Peaks and Valleys or, When Is a Recession Not a Recession?


Most of the economic news these days is not great: high unemployment, a drop in GDP that brought the US economy’s longest period of expansion to a screeching halt, and of course, the neverending ups and downs of the stock market. Though media sources have already started reporting on “the coronavirus recession” and we’re all feeling the effects of business closures and supply chain disruptions, we’re not technically in a recession. The reason comes down to how we measure economic performance. On today’s episode, we’ll be talking about economic indicators, what a recession is, and why official definitions don’t always match up with our lived experience. We’ll also be discussing some ways to weather an economic downturn, recession declaration or no. We can’t  promise to alleviate any concerns you may have about the economy or tell you what to expect in the coming months or years, but we’ll try to provide some actions that you can take in the present.



Note: we recorded this podcast in early April, just after the opening of the Paycheck Protection Program and the passage of the CARES Act, so you may hear references to dates that have already come and gone. As of this writing, though, we’re still following the roll out of the second round of the PPP, continued disbursement of EIDL loans and economic impact payments, and like everyone else, trying to be as prepared as we can for what comes next.

Show notes and bonus content below the cut:

Mentioned on the show:



You can also watch JEH’s video on the CARES Act and your business here.


Two key diagrams:


From the Balance: the business cycle, illustrated

the business cycle drawn as a mountain range showing expansions, peaks, contractions, and troughs

From the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: visualizing the difference between a recession and a depression

a graph showing changes in GDP grown compared to business cycle data showing recessions and depressions



A bald man paces in front of a screen that announces the best week for the stock market since 1938. The lower third of the screen contains text about millions of new job losses.

Why this screenshot of CNBC’s ‘Mad Money’ host Jim Cramer is ‘everything that is wrong with America

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