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We’re going to need a new name for the Great Recession

It took years for western economies to recover from the 2008 recession. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty

April 1, 2020 - 3:12pm

Thirteen years ago, the global financial crisis plunged most of the world into recession. In America they call it the Great Recession. In the US (and UK) it ended in 2009, but it was so deep that it was years before western economies fully recovered.

In fact, some things — like interest rates or Greek national sovereignty — have never recovered.

Yet, what we face now is so much worse. In the UK, and many other countries, the economy will shrink like it’s never shrunk before. And that’s just the immediate impact of the lock-down. In the medium term, there’ll be the scarring effect of mass unemployment, business collapse and un-repayable debts. And, over the long-term, the colossal challenge of undoing the excesses of globalisation.

So, we can’t call it the Great Recession anymore — not when the current crisis is so much greater.

There’s a parallel here with what was once called the Great War. When it became clear that “war to end all wars” hadn’t, it was re-named the First World War.

I wonder what we’ll come to call the Great Recession? Perhaps it’ll be Great Recession I, to be followed by Great Recession II, like the world’s least popular film franchise.

Or we could name each recession after the people to blame for it. So the Bankers’ Recession followed by, what, the Bat Eaters’ Recession?

We’ll have to see.

Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.


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