How Many Recessions Have We Experienced Since the Great Depression?

Nicole Harris
February 27, 2013

You don't often encounter charming and entertaining economists, but Dr. Esmael Adibi is both of these and informative, to boot. Yesterday in Tucson, AAMA's 76th Annual Conference luncheon speaker echoed the cautiously optimistic construction outlook for the fenestration industry you've been reading about elsewhere, tying it to his overall economic forecast.

Dr. Adibi's previous GDP growth forecasts have been on target for two of the last three years; 2010 was spot on at 2.4 percent growth; 2012 will come in at 2.3 percent, also as he predicted. As for 2011, the forecasted 3.3 percent ended up being 1.8, thanks to five events that "economists have no control over" when they add assumptions to their math and statistical equations. Unfortunately, and no surprise to anyone not living under a rock, three of these―the European debt crisis, unrest in the Middle East, and the U.S. deficit and debt―are still affecting the economy, resulting in a 2013 forecast of 2.1 percent growth, with housing starts at 968,000.

In today's political blame game climate, it was also interesting to get a historical perspective on previous recessions and which political party was in the White House at the time. So, our poll for today is the question Dr. Adibi asked of AAMA attendees: How many recessions have we experienced since the Great Depression, and which party was represented in the White House for the majority of them? Once you've chosen, click on the results page to see others' guesses, and stay tuned for the answer regarding which political party was in power next week.


Last week’s poll results confirm that we humans don’t like bad memories. The majority of survey respondents said between 5 and 10, but the correct answer is 11: 1948, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001 and 2007.

As for which political party was represented in the White House for the majority of them, the two years in bold type above were Democrats and the other nine were Republicans.

According to Dr. Adibi, most economists believe that Ronald Reagan was the best president for the economy in recent memory. Second best was Bill Clinton.

The author is publisher of Window & Door and Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at