Recession, or depression? Judge Posner sez . . .

January 12, 2009

Why beat around the bush?  Judge Richard Posner said at his blog:

I suspect that we have entered a depression. There is no widely agreed definition of the word, but I would define it as a steep reduction in output that causes or threatens to cause deflation and creates widespread public anxiety and a sense of crisis.

He has some interesting, and puckering, things to say about Bernanke’s actions, and Obama’s plans, too. His blogging colleague, Nobel-winning economist Gary Becker, has more tentative, still-Friedmanian remarks about crowding out tendencies of government spending.

It’s fun to read good economists trying to make sense of all of this.

I attended a session at the Dallas Fed a few weeks ago.  The VP who gave the main presentation talked about a meeting in which someone asked Bernanke, the great scholar of depressions, a highly technical, academic and potentially embarrassing question about the Fed’s work.  Bernanke closed off with an eye-twinkling comment:  “This would all be very interesting, if it were not happening to me.”

Yeah, if only it weren’t happening to us, now.

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