Economists generally agree that the literal definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth in gross domestic product. Under those criteria, most developed economies entered a recession at some point in 2008.

But they didn't all move in lockstep with each other, nor are they all feeling the pinch in quite the same way.

With the worldwide economy showing signs of recovery, there's ample reason to expect things to play out differently in various parts of the world.

Below, our recession timeline pinpoints some of the major economic developments in leading economies in Asia, Europe and North America.