By John S. McClenahen When it comes to ruling on economic recessions in the U.S. the generally accepted arbiter is the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. And NBER is saying the U.S. economy is not in recession. "Nothing in the data is yet anywhere close to the point that the bureau would investigate whether a peak [of the business cycle] occurred in late 2000," says NBER's Robert E. Hall. As a result, officially the last U.S. economic recession was from July 1990 until March 1991. Not so incidentally, NBER stresses that it does not define a recession as two consecutive quarters of decline in inflation-adjusted GNP, a commonly used standard for a recession. Rather, NBER considers a recession to be "a period of significant decline in total output, income, employment, and trade, usually lasting from six months to a year, and marked by widespread contractions in many sectors of the economy."