How bad is the Great Recession? Housing prices have slid more sharply than the Great Depression, and the federal deficit free fall is without precedent. That's bad. But in just about every other category, the Great Depression was must worse. That's good! What else? Paul Swartz, an International Economics analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, presents the recession, in context, in graphs (in a PDF).

The following graphs, from the appendix of Swartz's report, compare this recession to the Great Depression and the pre-/post-war recession averages:


us deficit.png

real home price.png


I think the graphs speak for the themselves, but here are some micro-conclusions. In reverse order: 1) US Trade (ie the sum of imports and exports) is historically terrible, but we're nowhere close to Great Depression depths; 2) Real home price and federal deficit collapses are historically disastrous, although in the Great Depression, you can see how long it took for the US to begin serious deficit spending; 3) Inflation is still historically low.

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