Friday, December 5, 2008

The Recession: "Mild" Down and "Bad" to Go?

At Macroblog, David Altig does wholesale what I've been doing piecemeal in several recent posts, comparing the current downturn with past recessions. He plots the recent movements in employment relative to both the "mild" recessions of 1991-92 and 2001 and the "bad" recessions of 1973-75 and 1981-82. Where we are still looks like a mild recession, but where we appear to be going looks like a bad one. The graphs are a good reminder of just how bad the bad ones were... we've still got a way to go before we get there. (Also, I think considering the 81-82 recession in isolation, rather than in combination with the 1980 recession somewhat understates the "badness" of that episode).

Update (12/6): See also the Times' recession comparison charts which predate the latest employment numbers (as Dean Baker rightly notes, the comparison of housing prices is somewhat deceptive since it is not adjusted for inflation).

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