• C22;
  • E32;
  • E37
  • business cycles;
  • recession probabilities;
  • Markov switching models;
  • real-time data analysis

This work estimates Markov switching models on real-time data and shows that the growth rate of gross domestic income (GDI), deflated by the gross domestic product (GDP) deflator, has done a better job recognizing the start of recessions than has the growth rate of real GDP. This result suggests that placing an increased focus on GDI may be useful in assessing the current state of the economy. In addition, the paper shows that the definition of a low-growth phase in the Markov switching models changed considerably from 1978 to 2005. The models increasingly came to define this phase as an extended period of around zero rather than negative growth, diverging somewhat from the traditional definition of a recession.