Chicago Fed Letter
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As economists have tried to understand the causes of the Great Recession and its consequences for households and firms, a consensus has emerged: The severity of the recession was amplified by the rapid buildup in consumer credit leading up to it and the subsequent credit retrenchment. However, the credit cycle played out unevenly among individuals of different financial means and across different parts of the U.S. Thus, one potential key to understanding the Great Recession is documenting how credit trends varied across the distribution of income and across geography, as well as across the two measures jointly.
In a pattern similar to that of the previous year, the U.S. economy appeared to slow down this past winter. The Bureau of Economic Analysis currently estimates that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 0.6% (at an annualized rate) in the first quarter of 2015. And as in the previous year, harsh winter weather has been cited by some observers as being responsible for the slowdown. However, there is substantial disagreement on the impact of weather on economic activity.