This paper constructs a new chronology of business cycles in the United Kingdom from
1700 on an annual basis and from 1920 on a quarterly basis. The new chronology points to
a number of observations about the business cycle. First, the cycle has significantly
increased in duration and amplitude over time. Second, contractions have become less
frequent but are as persistent and costly as at other times in history. Third, the typical
recession has been tick-shaped with a short contraction and longer recovery. Fourth, the
major causes of downturns have been sectoral shocks, financial crises and wars.