You'd have to be living on another planet not to have heard rumblings about a recession in the United States or world markets.\u00a0 The financial news\u00a0makes one gloomy pronouncement after another. Are We in a Recession? The funny thing about recessions is that you may not know you're in one until it's well underway. Or\u00a0until it's over.\u00a0 A recent MarketWatch article suggests it's possible that the U.S. economy is already in a recession.\u00a0 However,\u00a0in the end the article concludes "it's inconclusive." In other words, they don't know. Other articles hint strongly that we are already in a recession. But again, not everyone agrees. So, why is it\u00a0so difficult to tell when a recession is occurring?\u00a0\u00a0For one thing,\u00a0determining a recession is more art than science.\u00a0\u00a0Most economists look at a\u00a0number of different indicators to determine whether recession exists.\u00a0 They don't always agree on all those indicators.\u00a0\u00a0And measuring some of those indicators is\u00a0not necessarily an exact science, either.\u00a0\u00a0Sometimes it takes months for all the data to come in. What's more, some visible indicators behave counter-intuitively.\u00a0 Take the stock market,\u00a0which gets covered ad nauseum on the news.\u00a0 You can't equate Wall Street performance precisely with the economy's performance. \u00a0Stock prices tend to fall before a recession begins.\u00a0\u00a0Stocks actually\u00a0start going up again as the economy\u00a0begins to climb\u00a0out of recession. And then again, stocks rise and fall even when we don't have a recession. So, you may be wondering what my opinion is.\u00a0 Do I think we're in a recession?\u00a0 Well, I'm not sure my opinion matters \u00a0much. I'm not a trained economist.\u00a0 I can only go by the reports I read.\u00a0 However, I do know that economies run in cycles.\u00a0 You can't have robust economic growth forever.\u00a0 At some point things slow down for a while.\u00a0 So, recessions are inevitable at some point. And recession is looking more and more likely with each passing day. But if recession comes I'm not worried. I'll tell you why. What History\u00a0Tells Us Lou Dobbs (commentator on CNN) spoke\u00a0last evening about the U.S. economy on the brink of "disaster."\u00a0 Hmmm. I'd hardly link this economy to a word like disaster.\u00a0\u00a0I think he overstates the state of the economy in an irresponsible way.\u00a0 He\u00a0whips up fear.\u00a0 He withholds the perspective of history. Take for instance, the subprime mortgage mess that you hear so much about.\u00a0\u00a0History tells us we've\u00a0encountered worse -- and just in my lifetime.\u00a0\u00a0When I first started out in business I worked in a bank.\u00a0 At one point I managed a nationwide foreclosure portfolio.\u00a0\u00a0Some of those foreclosures were\u00a0the vestiges of\u00a0home loans made during the early '80s when average citizens like you and I had 12%, 13%, even 14% interest rates.\u00a0 I've seen housing booms and busts (and booms once again) come and go in markets like Texas and\u00a0Southern California. The other night I heard\u00a0a local news\u00a0story about a vacant house in Cleveland in foreclosure that had been stripped of everything of value, from pipes to carpeting to siding.\u00a0 The report implied\u00a0some\u00a0neighborhood catastrophe of a magnitude\u00a0the world has never seen before. Trust me, I've seen worse -- entire apartment buildings that were totally stripped in the space of 30 days.\u00a0\u00a0Not pleasant, but\u00a0a fact of life. And that was Houston, not Cleveland -- in an area that's since rebounded to be a beautiful upscale neighborhood. I feel for anyone facing foreclosure and don't wish to minimize\u00a0the impact.\u00a0 But\u00a0let's put the current\u00a0housing and mortgage situation\u00a0in perspective.\u00a0 Just like we need to put the economy into perspective.\u00a0 These\u00a0things run in\u00a0cycles.\u00a0 And cycles come and go. Don't Let Recession Fears Spook You Rather than obsessing about gloomy financial news, focus on how\u00a0you\u00a0conduct your business.\u00a0\u00a0What matters more for your business is your state of mind.\u00a0 I'm talking about the attitude between your two ears.\u00a0 If you let yourself get spooked and\u00a0defeated, your business is done for -- even in the best economy. What also counts is your ability to make the right decisions for your business\u00a0in the midst\u00a0of the macro-economic conditions going on around you. Joel Libava wrote here on Small Business Trends that even during recessions people and businesses spend.\u00a0 Life goes on. Not long ago Tim Berry echoed similar thoughts about how the way you run your business matters more than macro-economic trends. UPDATE:\u00a0 In a similar vein, Robert Mann sent me a link to his article pointing out why we're\u00a0NOT likely to have another crash of 1929 -- well worth a read. I would add this:\u00a0don't obsess on the economy, but don't ignore the bigger economic picture, either.\u00a0 For instance, if you were\u00a0considering making a\u00a0huge purchase or hiring\u00a0lots of new employees to expand, you might want to run the numbers again.\u00a0 Do what it takes to make sure you're not overextending the business at a time when the economy is soft. But otherwise, let it be business as usual.\u00a0\u00a0Whatever you do, don't let the economy become an excuse for\u00a0not trying to make your business successful.\u00a0 No cop outs.