n. An economic recovery that, when graphed, assumes the shape of a letter of the alphabet, such as L-shaped, U-shaped, or V-shaped.
The U.S. Federal Reserve Board's decision Wednesday to cut interest rates appears to signify the Fed's determination to avoid, by all means, what U.S. economists call the 'L-shaped' economic pattern, in which the economy hits a bottom followed by a protracted period of lateral movement along the trough. … As to the U.S. economic outlook, business circles in that country have given up on the prospect of a 'V-shaped' recovery, in which the economy rebounds quickly from a slowdown. Business leaders have even grown uncertain about the possibility of a 'U-shaped' recovery, in which the economy recovers after a certain period of adjustment.
The prevailing view is still for a U-shaped recovery.
Viewing economic output as the shape of a letter is nothing new. In fact, the use of U-shaped and V-shaped go back to at least the economic slowdown of the mid-70s. Unsurprisingly, however, these terms have made a big comeback in recent months as business pundits and analysts have tried to discern the looming shape of the current downturn. Given that the present woes have been caused to a certain degree by the bursting of the technology bubble, perhaps the current economic period will prove to be "e-shaped."