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Business Cycle

Written By
Paul Tracy
Updated January 16, 2021

What is a Business Cycle?

The business cycle refers to an economy's periodic patterns of growth, recession, and recovery.

How Does a Business Cycle Work?

An expanding economy is characterized by low unemployment, high productivity, and high consumer spending. When there is a decline in productivity, business revenues start to decline. Companies, consequently, reduce their workforces to cut costs. This results in rising unemployment and lower consumer confidence and spending, which are all hallmarks of a recession

As the recession weakens, incremental increases in productivity and revenues lead to an economic recovery. The unemployment rate is gradually reduced as companies begin hiring again. A decreasing unemployment rate leads to an increase in consumer confidence and spending, and the economy begins expanding again. 

Why Does a Business Cycle Matter?

Business cycles are of particular interest to economists and policy makers. Government intervention is often introduced during recessionary periods in an effort to hasten recovery. By studying the historical patterns of economic expansion and contraction, it may be possible to understand and forecast future economic trends. 

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