Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who named The Great Depression? (and what'll they name this one?)

Noah Mendel, an intern at History News Network, explores the origins of the term "The Great Depression" as applied to that unpleasantness in the 1930s. Nice piece of research. In the end, he credits the British economist Lionel Robbins, but (as often at HNN) it's pretty Americano-centric. Didn't the Brits call that long slowdown in the 1870s the Great Depression?

Speaking of depression, David Warsh at Economic Principals quotes someone who ought to know saying:
the United States increasingly looks to world economists like a much poorer country headed into the grip of a severe crisis, one in which a relative handful of ruling rich interests are determined not to lose control – a familiar enough story in Russia or Indonesia, Thailand or Korea, but not the way Americans are accustomed to thinking of themselves.
My draft version of the economic history of the early 21st century has been that we probably needed this serious correction, and that when we work through it, prosperity will reassert itself. Some smart people are suggesting that is optimistic.
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