Recession is not to be confused with depression. Recession means a slow down or slump or temporary collapse of a business activity. In its early stage it can be controlled in a methodical manner. Experience helps to avert total collapse. Unchecked, it leads to severe depression. Depression is a dead end. It is time to close shop completely. It is a total state of irrevocable economic failure. When a country is doing well all round its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is on the rise.

Overall economy is bullish; it is not only the stock exchanges that tell riches to rags stories but even small businesses. It all adds to the national exchequer. An economist is likely to give a detailed, comprehensive definition of recession. But for the layman who has been affected knows it only one way-when he loses his job and has no money to pay his credit and loans. Recession is when the consumer faces foreclosure and the banker comes knocking for his pound (or dollar) of flesh. Many companies and whole countries go bankrupt for want of liquid funds and cash flow for even daily requirements.

If you look at it from the point of view of a businessman, recession is a transitory phase. The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research has another definition. It profiles the businesses that have peaked with their activity in one season and it falls naturally in the next season. It regains its original position with new products or sales and continues to expand. This revival makes the recession a mild phase that large companies tolerate. As the fiscal position rises, there is no reason to worry. Recession can last up to a year. When it happens year after year then it is serious.

Are we facing a recession or not? Yes, for the simple reason that not only our neighbors but our friends are unemployed. There is less of business talk and more billing worries. Transitory recessions are good for the economy, as it tends to stabilize the prices. It allows run away bullish companies to slow down and take stock. There is a saying, ‘when it’s tough the tough get going’. The weaker companies will not survive the brief recession also. Stronger companies will pull through its resources. So when is it time to worry? When you are facing a foreclosure, when the chips are down and out and creditors file cases for recovery.

Firms face closures when they go through recession and are not able to recover from losses. If, at this time, they are not able to sustain their prices and stocks then there is more trouble. Even when the recession period gets over, they will not be able to do well. If a business survives a recession period they should be able to survive a depression. But how many recession proof businesses are there? Who will eventually survive the recession?
1. Those that have been able to save their funds.
2. Those who have not invested in fly-by-night companies.
3. Those who remain clam till the storm passes.
4. Those that take stock immediately and decide to reinvest in a recession proof business.

~ By N. Nagpal, economist and category author. 2008.

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