Great Devaluation?

I could be all wrong, but…

We’ve been raised to call that socio-economic event of the 1930s the “Great Depression.” So what do we call our recent (current) socio-economic event? It’s clearly not been as bad as the “Great Depression.” If you think it is, read the histories. The social safety nets we have in place now prevented many of those bad things from happening again.

Some have called our current malady the “Great Recession.” It was surely a recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of declining GDP), and in terms of the lost wealth, jobs and hope, it was surely “Great” – if by “Great” we mean “large, significant, and wide-spread.” We’ve been told that GDP is trending up, so we’re out of that recession – though many are still feeling the effects and feel unconvinced that things are improving.

Not being an economist, I look for a less technical term for the larger phenomenon that is still underway. My term of choice is the “Great Devaluation.” “Devaluation,” though not a technical term, takes in the deflationary effects we’ve seen in places like the housing and job markets and generalizes them. The level of fear and insecurity is still high enough with many that they are unwilling to engage in particular economic activities until the price drops more.

I see this pressure on government as well. We’ve spent ourselves into a huge hole over the past generation (my lifetime). Almost every level of government is mortgaged to the edge of bankruptcy (or beyond). We’re looking for cheaper ways to do things. It makes sense.

Seeing the push for efficiency that accompanies this quest for “cheaper,” I wonder if we’ve not started devouring ourselves. Are we – the capitol of capitalism – consuming ourselves in a way similar to the way the Soviet Union consumed itself in the late 1980s? Are we experiencing the reductio ad absurdum or the reductio ad paupertatem of capitalism? I guess we’ll see.

What do you think?

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