Are we in a depression?

A drastic view? Perhaps. But with the US economy facing growth well below expectations two years after a recession, and an increasingly ominous European debt crisis, the superlatives being used to describe conditions are gaining in intensity.

“Here we are today, with a severe recession (2007-09) followed by the weakest recovery on record and now on the precipice of another economic downturn,” David Rosenberg, senior economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff in Toronto wrote in a special analysis. “This is a modern-day depression, not entirely dissimilar to Japan’s post-bubble experience of the past two decades.”

Rosenberg takes issue with the standard issue of a recession being two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and rather says it measures peaks in sales activity, jobs, industrial production and income growth.

The US already has had something of a lost decade, Rosenberg reasons, citing stock values still around 1998 levels and little net job growth.