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June 17, 2010

The worst economic downturn

The recession of the last couple of years has been compared to the downturn of the 1930s, also known as the Great Depression. Now the Great Depression is the standard against which the severity of all recessions is compared. But was the Great Depression of the 1930s really the worst economy in our history?

Dr. Mike Walden, an extension economist at N.C. State University, responds:

"Of course, there are many ways to measure the effect of a depression, a recession, but in terms of length of an economic downturn ... the answer is no. And actually the longest downturn -- we will call it depression -- was the one that started in 1873. It ran for five years until 1879, and we term this now the 'Long Depression.' In contrast, our current recession probably will have lasted less than two years. And in the 1930s we really had two recessions that were not back to back -- the longest one was for 3.5 years. So the longest economic downturn -- definitely the one in the 1870s.

"Like the one that we have seen in the last couple of years, this was a worldwide depression. It sparked a lot of changes, most notably demographic. This was a period that motivated a lot of families in Europe to pick up and leave Europe and move to the U.S. I know some of my relatives did.

"So this was an economic downturn not only that was long but had a lot of lasting impacts."

Posted by deeshore at June 17, 2010 07:12 AM