The phrase "new normal" is much used, but not much defined. It suggests that after some momentous event, say a man-made disaster or a financial collapse, the situation stabilises, but does not "get back to normal" ... not exactly anyway. The new normal is not quite the same as the old normal, and thus you won't really know the new equilibrium until you've been in it for a while.
it's the distinction between an aberration and a change. For instance, after how many years of drought
do you concede that the climate got dryer
for instance, if a senior British politician says in late 2008 that "the availability of lending to homeowners and small businesses will be maintained at at least 2007 levels" 1 then he is still in denial to the basic fact that the economy has changed, and it is futile to try to re-inflate a plainly busted bubble.
However, any change will have those who try to leverage it for their own ends, with wild claims that, that "everything has changed now" so, for instance, basics such as the Geneva Convention's prohibition against torture can be discarded.
A new normal can be seen on a more personal scale after the death of a loved one. One does not recover from such events as such, since "recover" means to get back to where you were before, by covering the distance again. You don't get back to where you were before. "Adapt" is a better word for what happens.
1) Gordon Brown, November 2008 : http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/nov/20/banks-gordon-brown-debt-mortgages