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Is the economy growing? Well, that's a trick question. On average over time, the economy is always growing, but it also moves through phases of stronger and weaker growth—and occasionally it slips into reverse. At these times—when the growth rate at which goods and services are being produced actually turns negative for a period of time—policymakers such as the Federal Reserve and members of the general public turn their attention to what economists call “business cycles."
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Fed in Print: An index of the economic research conducted by the Fed.