Are we in a depression, or in a recession? I'm starting to get depressed just thinking about it. Tyler Cowen lists eight reason why he thinks it's a depression. Megan McArdle, in whose blog I found the link to Cowen, adds that she thinks we might be in a depression because "we don't understand how to get in or out of it."
I'm not enough of an economist to make the judgment. This is certainly the worst recession I've ever lived through.
One thing that strikes me that is different about this is that we are seeing massive increases in efficiency and productivity because of the Internet, but we are not seeing increases in wealth because of those increases. It's ridiculously easy to find news, or music, or just about any kind of entertainment, but most of it is free, or pays its content creators differently than old media does. NYTimes.com is vastly more efficient at making the content of the NY Times available to a worldwide audience, but it's not making as much money for the NY Times as the paper edition.
That will eventually be corrected. At some point the business models will adjust. They are already starting to. But there remains a great deal of pain that we have to go through first. And there is almost nothing that the government can do about that.
There is nothing unusual, of course, about changes in technology precipitating changes in business models that lead to wrenching change in an economy. But it's happening very quickly, and across the world.
Again, I'm not an economist, so I don't know how to crunch the numbers for that. But it strikes as something unique about this economy