Depressions, mental and economic

Jim Jaszewski ab975 at
Tue Jul 11 10:36:30 MDT 1995

On Sat, 8 Jul 1995, Doug Henwood wrote:

> I think recession was coined by the Roosevelt administration to describe
> what happened in 1937 when the recovery of 1933-36 fell apart and the
> economy fell back into slump, thanks in large part to a tightening of
> fiscal and monetary policy in 1936. (Deficits! Loose money! Inflation!
> Gads!). The blow to confidence was pretty sharp - was the Depression
> permanent? - so the euphemism "recession" was meant to soften the blow.

	Nice to find this out (probably heard it B4. Forgot.)

	But, even given what you point out below, why should we be using
such NewSpeak??

> There is a big difference between the two critters today. The unemployment
> rate in the U.S. topped out at around 25% in the early 1930s; the closest
> we've come since is half that. (No lectures, please, on the shortcomings of
> official unemployment measures; I'm aware of all that.)

	No lectures (from me, anyway), but it seems to me that the lower
numbers are due in large part BECAUSE of the 'welfare state' ameliorating
the worst effects of a slump, and therefore, a 'recession' is still a
depression -- but a kinder, gentler, Keynesian one -- and should be called
by its real name.

	And what ABOUT those 'statistics'?? Shouldn't we simply be calling
our governments liars and dissemblers, and _consistently_ (and loudly)
publish the REAL figures (accurate to the best of our abilities)??

> Depressions also have a sticking power that recessions don't. A modern
> garden-variety recession will respond to loose money and deficit spending,
> but a depression won't very much. The average post-World War II U.S.
> recession has lasted about 10 months, but the average between 1854 and
> 1919, which includes the great deflationary decades of the 1870s-90s, was
> 22 months. The heart of the 30s depression, Aug 1929-Mar 1933, lasted 43
> months. But the killers of 1873-79 (65 months), 1882-85 (38 months) were
> nothing to sneeze at either. Now *those* were depressions. Compared to that
> the little 8-month downdraft of Jul 90-Mar 91 was a mere summer
> thundershower.

	All a result of keynesianism, no??

	Now that our Masters have eagerly stampeded to abandon (nearly)
all pretenses to the welfare state, I would expect we'll be returning back
to the Future... Ahh, Brave New World...


   Jim Jaszewski   <jjazz at>

   WWW homepage:   <>


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