The determination by the National Bureau of Economic Research that the American economy entered into recession in February March 2020 was a surprise for many. The recession thus started before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic and a full month before President Trump declared a state of emergency. But is this early recession really surprising?

In a feature article to appear in the forthcoming (Summer) issue of Regulation, which will hit the newsstands before the end of this month and the web earlier, I tried to see what diagnosis of the “Trump economy” (if such a label can be used) could be made on December 31, 2019.

My article contains 9 figures that give a good idea of the evolution of the American economy during these three years. Some of the data may surprise you. My main question was: To which was the American economy prepared for an economic shock? I don’t want to spoil the suspense, but I think that the subtitle of my article is not badly chosen: “Three Years of Volatile Continuity.” But wait to see the charts.

P.S.: A comment by TMC below has led to the changes indicated in my post.