An economic cycle of recession and recovery that resembles a "W" in charting. A W-shaped recovery represents the shape of the chart of certain economic measures such as employment, GDP, industrial output, etc. A W-shaped recovery involves a sharp decline in these metrics followed by a sharp rise back to the previous peak, followed again by a sharp decline and ending with another sharp rise. The middle section of the W can represent a significant bear market rally or a recovery that was stifled by an additional economic crisis.
A W-shaped recovery generally characterizes a period of extreme volatility compared to other types of recoveries. There are countless other shapes a recession and recovery chart could take, including L-shaped, V-shaped, U-shaped and J-shaped. Each shape represents the general shape of the chart of economic metrics that gauge economic health.