Cusp of harsh recession?

US faces worst recession in 26 years


The US economy appears to be plunging into what many experts believe will be its worst recession since 1982.

Senior officials at the Treasury and Federal Reserve are confident that the rescue plan for US banks will succeed in preventing a financial system meltdown and ensure there will not be a repeat of the Great Depression. But they know that a sharp economic downturn is already baked in the cake. They do not,however, know how deep or protracted it will be.


“The actual deterioration in the data in the last few weeks has been much more severe than anyone was expecting,” said Frederic Mishkin, a professor at Columbia university and former Fed governor.

Consumers, who account for 72 per cent of the US economy, are pulling back amid a brutal tightening of credit conditions on everything from car loans to credit cards and home equity lines. Meanwhile, foreign demand is also weakening.

Alan Blinder, a professor at Princeton and former Fed vice-chairman, said: “It looks to me like the economy has fallen off a cliff.”

He said it was all but certain the US would face a recession worse than in 2001 or 1990-1991.

“The game is now about making sure this recession is less deep and less long than the 1982 recession.”

Many experts expect unemployment will soar from its current level of 6.1 per cent and worry it could go above 8 per cent.

The Fed now thinks that unemployment will rise above 7 per cent and is likely to peak at about 7.5 per cent – a level last seen in 1992.

“We may be talking about one of the most severe recessions in the post-war period,” said Larry Meyer, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers and a former Fed governor.

Comment: Wiki article on The early 1980s recession

A combination of deficit spending and the lowering of interest rates slowly led to economic recovery. From a high of 10.8% in December 1982, unemployment gradually improved until it fell to 7.2% on Election Day in 1984

Comment: The problem is ... how much more deficit spending can the Federal government do? And that debt clock keeps a clicking!

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