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Business Cycles

Reading Q-A

Time required: 30 minutes


Timothy Cook

This article on business cycles includes information on the characteristics of the business cycle, theories on the causes of the business cycle, and how those theories have evolved since the Great Recession.

In Class Handouts

(Note: the answer key is available at the St. Louis Fed's Econ Lowdown Teacher Portal. See the online assignment section for more information.)

As an Online Assignment

Visit the Reading Q&As in the St. Louis Fed’s Econ Lowdown Teacher Portal, to assign an online version of the student materials and to collect student scores on the questions. The materials are still free—but having them in the portal keeps students from accessing the answer key.

Related Resources

Classroom Economist: The Business Cycle Video

The Business Cycle - The Economic Lowdown Podcast Series, Episode 18

Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics

Standard 18: Economic Fluctuations. Fluctuations in a nation’s overall levels of income, employment, and prices are determined by the interaction of spending and production decisions made by all households, firms, government agencies, and others in the economy. Recessions occur when overall levels of income and employment decline.

  • Benchmark 3, Grade 12:  A business cycle involves fluctuations of real GDP around its potential level.
  • Benchmark 4, Grade 12: Fluctuations of real GDP around its potential level occur when overall spending declines, as in a recession, or when overall spending increases rapidly, as in recovery from a recession or in an expansion.

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