The Depression of the 2020's
We’re not paying enough attention. This midterm election hides a real danger of Depression. We’re stumbling into exactly what happened in the 1930's.
The Great Depression of the 1930’s occurred when the financial authorities of the day responded to a sudden downturn with the opposite of what was needed. A straightjacket of fiscal austerity was applied (by the self-protecting upper classes) in place of the stimulation that would have enabled recovery. That shut down everything in the US and much of the western world.
We are currently fighting inflation. That’s a tough battle and will cause a slowdown that is some variety of recession. It’s what happens next that matters.
The only reason we got out of the 2008 recession was that there were enough Republicans to join Democrats in passing a stimulus package early on. Already by 2010 there were few of those Republicans left, and any further stimulus was blocked in the name of the bogus “balanced budget amendment”. The goal was national pain ahead of the 2016 election. It worked.
We’re in that situation again, but the dangers are much worse. To state the obvious, the worldwide economy is in extremely fragile state: inflation is everywhere (we’re actually on the low side), there is war in Ukraine (with direct consequences for many countries), energy prices are rising from Saudi greed, there’s even a dictatorship-induced slowdown in China, and (compared with 2008) there is very little international cooperation. Forced austerity is exactly what brought the world economy down last time, and we’re going to get it again.
For today’s Republican Party a recession is an opportunity. A Republican (Trump) Congress will do anything to bring back their hero. As in 2014 there will be no possibility of stimulus no matter how bad things get, because pain is the goal. By 2024 it will be too late for any short-term way out.
The Great Depression was so bad, that it seemed that people would always remember what happened and never do that again. Unfortunately we’re there.