QUOTE OF THE DAY….From Megan McArdle:
I recently realized that over the past few weeks, without really noticing, I’ve slipped quite naturally into referring to the current crisis as “the Depression”. I also realized that no one I’ve spoken to has challenged that description.
It’s sort of stunning to step back from the daily minutiae once in a while and realize just how bad this economic crisis is. As near as I can tell, the underlying shock really is as intense as the one that kicked off the Great Depression, and the only thing preventing soup lines these days is that we’ve learned a helluva lot since the 1930s. Retirees all continue to have purchasing power and healthcare thanks to Social Security and Medicare. The unemployed are receiving unemployment insurance. Deposit insurance is preventing bank runs. The Fed has lowered interest rates to zero and is prepared to intervene massively to prop up the money supply. Barack Obama is readying a massive federal spending stimulus package. The Treasury is pumping capital into the banking system to prevent a complete collapse of the credit markets. Aside from tinkering around the edges, most countries have agreed (so far!) not to ratchet up protectionist tariffs and trade barriers. We aren’t hobbled by reliance on the gold standard.
Take that stuff away today and unemployment might already be in double digits and still heading up. Put this stuff in place in 1929 and we probably never would have had the original Depression (or World War II). So thanks, FDR! Thanks, modern mixed economy! Thanks, countercyclical policy measures! I sure hope it’s enough.