Economic Conditions: Not Even Close to The Great Depression, We're A Nation of Exaggerators
In the past two months, this newspaper alone (Washington Post) has written no fewer than nine times, in news stories, columns and op-eds, that key elements of the economy are the worst they've been "since the Great Depression."
It's a virus -- and it's spreading. Do a Google News search for "since the Great Depression," and you come up with more than 4,500 examples of the phrase's use in just the past month.
But that doesn't make any of it true. Things today just aren't that bad. Sure, there are trouble spots in the economy, as the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and jitters about Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers, amply demonstrate. And unemployment figures are up a bit, too. None of this, however, is cause for depression -- or exaggerated Depression comparisons.
This would suggest that anyone who says we're in a recession, or heading into one -- especially the worst one since the Great Depression -- is making up his own private definition of "recession." And probably for his own political purposes.
~Don Luskin in yesterday's Washington Post
MP: See chart above of annual unemployment rates back to 1930 (August unemployment rate for 2008), showing that the average jobless rate in the 1930s was 17.1%, much, much higher (almost 3X higher) than the current rate of 6.1%. Any comparisons of today's economy to the economic conditions of the Great Depression are surely largely exaggerated.