Great Depression vs. 'Great Recession'

Comparisons between this economic recession and the Great Depression are common, but the granddaddy of all downturns was far worse.

By David Goldman, staff writer

  Great Depression ‘Great Recession’
Bank failures 9,096 – 50% of banks
(Jan. 1930 – March 1933)
57 – 0.6% of banks
(Dec. 2007 – May 2009)
Unemployment rate 25% 8.5%
Economic decline1 -26.5%
(1929 - 1933)
(SSecond quarter 2008 - first quarter 2009)
Biggest decline in Dow Jones industrial average -89.2%
(Sept. 3, 1929 – July 8, 1932)
(Oct. 9, 2007- March 9, 2009)
Change in prices -25%
(1929 – 1933)
(Dec. 2007-March 2009)
Emergency spending programs 1.5% of GDP for 1 year
(Increase in 1934 budget deficit)
2.5% of GDP for 2 years2
(2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act)
States’ response Raise taxes, cut spending Federal stimulus plan gives fiscal relief to states to lessen impact of tax increases
Increase in money supply by Federal Reserve 17%
(September 2008 – May 2009)
Source: FDIC, Federal Reserve; Commerce Department; Dow Jones; Christina Romer, Obama economic adviser, “Lessons from the Great Depression for Economic Recovery in 2009” (March 9) and JEC testimony

1Inflation adjusted GDP, peak to trough
2Romer estimate (April 30)

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