The Great U.S. Depression of 2008

I know, I know, magazine/newspaper contrarian cover indicators are passe, but still … this overdone one from The Independent has to be worth something, doesn’t it?

[Update] Good, empirically-minded takedown of the article’s argument here.


  1. It is not 28 million Americans who are relying on food stamps. That would be ca. 10% of the entire population! Clearly nonesense!!
    It is 28 million food stamps that are being used every year. Makes sense:
    300,000,000 Americans * 0.01% = 30,000
    30,000 * 365 days * 3 meals = 32,850,000 (more or less 28 million)
    It is some 30,000 Americans who rely on food stamps, not 28 million. But good April 1st joke anyway!!!

  2. Hmm… not sure it is nonsense (or nonesense) Jens.
    From the NYT article: “In Rhode Island, the number of recipients climbed by 18 percent over the last two years, to more than 84,000 as of February, or about 8.4 percent of the population.”
    “The additional 67,000 clients added from July 2007 to January of this year brought total recipients to 1.86 million, about one in 10 New Yorkers.”
    Check the CBO for the data.
    The Independent article is of course bollocks as Mr Flip points out in PK’s link.
    Shame he doesn’t know how to use percentages. (In fact, Flip’s math is just embarrassing. He cites 0.092% in the article but his chart shows 0.0092%. Should be 9.2% of course.)
    I think what is more interesting here is that bloggers such as Flip and Jens are so far away from what is an extremely harsh reality for a large portion of the population that they think only one in 100,000 Americans need food stamps rather than one in ten.

  3. Jason G. says:

    This is awesome news! Sure, we’re in a depression, but I might be able to win a MacAir or an iPod!
    Do I need to be on food-stamps to win the prizes?

  4. Pardon my English says:

    And yet, this doomed and devilishly capitalistic economy somehow managed to produce things like iPods and MacBooks that the enlightened readers of The Independent seem to find attractive (Witness the competition above headline). It would be delighfully ironic if it weren’t so sad. It appears to me that these elitist(as they like to see themselves) lead a parasitarian existence, profiting from a free-market society whilst trying everything to denounce it. They will never get it.

  5. Well, actually, given I live in Europe, I am a bit removed :)
    I also relied on the data in the graph of the linked article to be correct which it probablt wasn’t.

  6. One way or the other guys;
    we can argue the stats till the analytics pour out of our heads.
    The more salient fact of “Depression 2008” is that the challenges facing our financial structure are the most dire since the Great Depression.
    Whatever that foodstamp #, it’s probably got a better chance now than in the past 80+ years of becoming a hell of a lot larger than it is now, ipods be damned.

  7. Guys, things are definitely tough all over, no question – from the white collar on over to the blue. But we have an extremely resilient economy. We have a Fed that’s willing to help and employment is still strong.
    Now, let me also state the obvious – if the employment situation takes a turn for the worst, then we’re in big trouble. The American consumer (70% of GDP) will stop spending and then this economy will come to a screeching halt – at that point the Fed will have probably cut rates even more and won’t have as much ammo to help us rebound…that’s a scary thought.
    But for right now, we really aren’t as bad as many of the headlines make it out to be.

  8. Hmmmm….. Note the date in the upper right hand corner. ;->

  9. Paul Kedrosky says:

    I know. I wondered same. A joke, perhaps? But that felt too kind.

  10. Wayne,
    you’re right, we haven’t drastically contracted yet.
    To counter all the bad stuff, though, we need some good news.
    Today’s chatter is UBS on the hook for $30 billion, 15 of which they need from someone else.
    Markets are based on trust. Good news=more trust. Bad news=less trust. Less trust=less lending=more contracting.
    Octavio Marenzi, head of financial consultancy Celent, had this to say in wake of UBS: “we expect to see the U.S. banking industry shed about 200,000 jobs in the coming 12 to 18 months”
    Hardly surprising. Less business=less overpaid employees.
    Show me good news in financials and I’ll show you warranted optimism.