In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity.
There is no global consensus on the definition of a recession. In the United States, it is defined as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the market, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales". In the United Kingdom and other countries, it is defined as a negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters.
The Biden Administration (including Fed Secretary Janet Yellen) has reiterated that as well
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee—the official recession scorekeeper—defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months.” The variables the committee typically tracks include real personal income minus government transfers, employment, various forms of real consumer spending, and industrial production. Notably, there are no fixed rules or thresholds that trigger a determination of decline, although the committee does note that in recent decades, they have given more weight to real personal income less transfers and payroll employment.
The problem, for some people, with this definition is that it's too indefinite. NBER, for instance, took until Dec 2008 to identify the US was in a recession that started sometime back in Jan 2008 (about 11 months).
The committee identified December 2007 as the peak month, after determining that the subsequent decline in economic activity was large enough to qualify as a recession.
It's clear the US has no objective standards for defining a recession as it is happening. Yet some countries take the raw GDP quarters and run with it
In the UK, a recession is defined as a negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters.
Why doesn't the US subscribe to the "two negative quarters of growth" standard?