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The Superlative Recession and economic policies


  • Tatom, John


In late 2008 and early 2009, there has been a serious deterioration in the economic outlook of political leaders, the media and many economic analysts. Comparisons of recent performance and the outlook have degenerated into comparisons with the Great Depression of the 1930s, suggesting that the current recession is the worst since the 1930s. This recession should be called the superlative recession because discussions invariably refer to the most dismal performance since the Great Depression. These superlative comparisons are far off base. But more importantly, the superlatives seem to have succeeded in reversing 70 years of history on economic policy and economic thought. With the benefit of time, depression era policies had been seen as complete failures that extended and worsened the depression. A long delayed monetary policy easing has offered new possibilities for an end to the deepening recession, but its continuation remains in doubt because it is the result of a shift in policy procedures more than of a shift in policy. More troublesome is that massive fiscal policy programs have become central to the policy debate, despite three large failed fiscal responses over the past year and a strong consensus in the policy community that such efforts are not likely to be effective. A change of leadership has focused efforts on increasing federal spending in ways and to an extent not seen in many years, comparable with the fall 2008 explosion in money growth and putting fiscal policy in the same superlative response category as the recession itself.

Suggested Citation

  • Tatom, John, 2009. "The Superlative Recession and economic policies," MPRA Paper 13115, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:13115

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tatom, John, 2008. "Is the financial crisis causing a recession?," MPRA Paper 12712, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Leonall C. Andersen & Jerry L. Jordan, 1968. "Monetary and fiscal actions: a test of their relative importance in economic stabilization," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 11-23.
    3. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Does public capital crowd out private capital?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-188, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. John A. Tatom, 2009. "The Limits Of Fiscal Policy," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(2), pages 14-19, July.

    More about this item


    recession; monetary policy; fiscal policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General

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