Business Cycle Council
The C.D. Howe Institute Business Cycle Council is an arbiter of business cycle dates in Canada. The Council meets annually, or when economic conditions indicate the possibility of entry to, or exit from, a recession. The Council also acts as a conduit for research aimed at developing a deeper understanding of how the economy evolves and to provide guidance to policymakers. The Council performs a similar function to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee in the United States. The Council is comprised of Canada’s preeminent economists active in the field. Members of the Council participate in their personal capacities, and the views collectively expressed do not represent those of any institution or client.
The Council released its first report on October 24, 2012, providing an assessment of the 2008/09 recession, as well as an historical chronology of business cycle dates going back to 1926 (a background document that explains in greater details the methodology can be found here, with the associated peer-reviewed Commentary found here). In its second report, the council determined that as of July 22, 2015, the data did not provide evidence that Canada had entered an economic downturn. The findings of the third report, using revised Gross Domestic Product data, were consistent with the second report. The fourth report similarly corroborated the 2015 conclusions. Furthermore it determined that, based on expanded expenditure-based GDP data, the 1980 recession was now a near miss, and the fourth quarter of 1974 should be added to the first quarter 1975 recession. In the fifth and most recent report, Council members took a final vote and narrowly decided that the first two quarters of 2015 were not a recession.
Business cycle dates are determined by consensus. In the event of dissension among Council members, a simple plurality of votes is used. Votes are subject to a quorum of at least half of the members of the Council. The Council chair votes only in the event of a stalemate.