The aim of the article is to compare 2008-2010 recessions in individual EU countries. For the comparison a new quantitative measure – recession magnitude scale – is used. The scale is derived from (negative) quarterly GDP growth rates during a recession and its duration. Moreover, recessions are classified on the basis of their magnitudes into one of four categories: minor, major, severe and ultra. The strongest recession (of severe category) took place in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Ireland, while the majority of EU countries experienced recessions of major category. Magnitude of Greek recession will be evaluated after the end of the ongoing event. The weakest recessions in EU occurred in France, Malta and Cyprus (the only recession of minor category). A comparison of EU’s recession with the US Great Depression in the 1930s revealed that the recent crisis was more than eight times smaller than that of 1930s. Furthermore, it was found out that recession magnitudes in EU countries were positively correlated to the countries’ economic growth prior to the recession and this relationship was statistically significant at 0.01 level.
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