The downturn has been quick and dramatic. And because of that, some economists are now arguing that the recovery will take place sooner than many expect.
They say that the sharp drop in production and inventories during this recession will force businesses that are now busy cutting back to quickly ramp up production once the economy starts to improve.
The crisis in financial and credit markets sparked by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September caused businesses to slam the brakes on production much harder than justified by reduced demand alone, according to Joseph Carson, chief economist at AllianceBernstein.
"We were producing 2 million tons of steel a week prior to Lehman. Now we're producing 880,000 a week," Carson said. "The economy has slowed, but it has not fallen by half in the last three months. This kind of significant inventory liquidation is exactly why recoveries take place."