Worldwide Recession Is Over
The surveys, conducted in the United States by the Institute of Supply Management and in other countries by Markit, measure not the level of manufacturing output but the way it is changing. The surveys have a reputation for showing turns in the economy, often before other indicators do. In the charts above, the index figures have been converted to show the number of points over or under 50 for each of 12 countries, from the end of 2007 through September.
While details vary, the slump was sharp in nearly every country, reflecting the sudden decline that came after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. That worsened a credit squeeze, which meant some companies had no choice but to cut back on everything they could, from inventories to marketing expenditures to jobs. Others, fearing that the economic outlook could become much worse, cut back voluntarily.
It now appears that companies cut too much, and the surveys of manufacturing show that companies are expanding in most countries. Over all, the surveys indicate that the manufacturing sectors of China, Taiwan, South Korea and India had begun to grow by April, but that the United States did not follow suit until August.