THE American government reported on Thursday October 29th that gross domestic product rose at an annualised rate of 3.5% in the third quarter compared with the second. This was the first increase since the second quarter of 2008. It backs up other evidence that the recession ended in the third quarter or just before, though the official decision, by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a group of academic economists, is still some way off. Robert Gordon, a member of this group, is confident that the recession, which began in December 2007, ended in June. But at 18 months that would still make it the longest since 1933.
Consumers are sceptical. Their confidence fell in October, according to the Conference Board, a research group. A poll for The Economist by YouGov found that 35% of respondents think the economy is getting worse; just 28% think it is getting better. Unemployment is still rising.