Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not Everybody’s Recession is the Same

Mark Perry in Carpe Diem says the 1990-1991 recession was relatively short and mild, but that media reporting on severity was hysterically overblown. For example:

"There is no question but this is the worst economic time since the Great Depression.”


“.....the worst plunge since the Great Depression.”


"This is the most severe economic dislocation we've had since the 1930s. Few are immune."

There are eleven such quotes in the post. When you go back to the original sources, here is how they break out:

  • Four refer to specific indicators (e.g., sales, pessimism, job loss)
  • Three (in fact, the three cited above) refer to geographic areas (e.g., California, Great Britain)
  • One refers to a specific demographic group (white collar employees)
  • One refers to a forecast of the severity
  • One refers to a specific time period (worst three year period)

This is a good reminder that, which the aggregate data for a recession gives one picture, there is a lot of variation in the geographic distribution and dimensions of each recession. James Hamilton at Econbrowser has some great posts on recession variations between states here, here and here.