Supplementary resources by topic. Business Cycles is one of 51 key economics concepts identified by the Council for Economic Education (CEE) for high school classes.
On this page:
Definitions and Basics
Business Cycles, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
The United States and all other modern industrial economies experience significant swings in economic activity. In some years most industries are booming and unemployment is low; in other years most industries are operating well below capacity and unemployment is high. Periods of economic expansion are typically called booms; periods of economic decline are called recessions or depressions. The combination of booms and recessions, the ebb and flow of economic activity, is called the business cycle….
Recessions, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
One of the most popular definitions of recessions is that they are periods when real gross national product (GNP) has declined for at least two consecutive quarters. In 1990, real GNP declined between the third and fourth quarters and again between the fourth quarter of 1990 and the first quarter of 1991. Hence, there is general agreement that a recession did occur….
In the News and Examples
Shlaes on The Great Depression. Podcast. EconTalk, June 4, 2007.
Amity Shlaes, Bloomberg columnist and visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, talks about her new book, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. She and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the economics of the New Deal and the class warfare of the 1930s….
A Little History: Primary Sources and References
Great Depression, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
The Great Depression of the thirties remains the most important economic event in American history. It caused enormous hardship for tens of millions of people and the failure of a large fraction of the nation’s banks, businesses, and farms….
It is hard for those who did not live through it to grasp the full force of the worldwide depression. Between 1930 and 1939 U.S. unemployment averaged 18.2 percent. The economy’s output of goods and services (gross national product) declined 30 percent between 1929 and 1933 and recovered to the 1929 level only in 1939. Prices of almost everything (farm products, raw materials, industrial goods, stocks) fell dramatically. Farm prices, for instance, dropped 51 percent from 1929 to 1933. World trade shriveled: between 1929 and 1933 it shrank 65 percent in dollar value and 25 percent in unit volume. Most nations suffered. In 1932 Britain’s unemployment was 17.6 percent. Germany’s depression hastened the rise of Hitler and, thereby, contributed to World War II.
John Maynard Keynes, biography from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics