After The Recession

John Cassidy interviews economist Gary Becker:

If this recession had got a lot worse, we would have seen two major changes: much more government intervention in the economy and a lot more concentration in economics in trying to understand what went wrong. Assuming I’m right and, fundamentally, the recession is overa severe recession but maybe not much greater than the 1981 recession, or those in the nineteen-seventiesI think you are not going to see a huge increase in the role of government in the economy.

I’m more and more confident of that. And economists will be struggling to understand how this crisis happened and what you can do to head another one off in the future, but it will be nothing like the revolution in the role of government and in thinking that dominated the economics profession for decades after the Great Depression. The Great Depression was a great depression by any measure you want to takeunemployment, decline in output, and so on. This recession pales in comparison. As a result, I think we are not going to have anything like the reaction we had at that point.