Here’s Robert J. Samuelson splitting hairs over the state of the economy. He’s talking about whether or not we’re in a “depression” as opposed to a “recession”. And his article is kind of bogus. Because, although recessions are clearly defined (two or more quarters of negative GDP growth), a depression really isn’t. It’s just kind of a short-hand for for a bad or long recession. Basically, this article is exactly the same as an op-ed where we discuss whether the Dark Knight was “wicked awesome” or just “hella cool.”*
What matters here is not whether this recession is going to be as bad as the Great Depression (hint, it won’t be. That’s like saying that the Iraq war won’t be as bloody as World War II). But people are not stupid. They can kind of smell when things aren’t going well. Instead commentators ought to try to tell people what is actually going on, and what is actually going to happen. Telling them to sit back and shut up, because everything is going to be alright and this is just a normal part of the business cycle isn’t going to cut it. We can smell bullshit. They also said that the years from 2002-2007 were years of steady growth…but that didn’t cut it either.
*Not that I can’t imagine an op-ed just like that.