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The Great Contraction of 2008-2009

CAMBRIDGE – A popular view among economic forecasters and market bulls is that “the deeper the recession, the quicker the recovery.” They are right – up to a point: immediately after a normal recession, economies do, indeed, often grow much faster than usual over the ensuing twelve months. Unfortunately, the Great Recession of 2008-2009 is far from being a normal global recession.

The Great Recession was turbo-charged by a financial crisis, making it a far more insidious affair that typically has far more long-lasting effects. As Carmen Reinhart and I argue in our new book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly , the Great Recession is better described as “The Great Contraction,” given the massive and simultaneous contraction of global credit, trade, and growth that the world has experienced.