Thursday, 23 September 2010

When does a recession become a depression?

About now in the case of Ireland I would reckon.

There is no formal description of what a "depression" is. Even the term "recession" is subjective and can vary in its definition.

I am using it to refer to a significant and persistant decline in real national income per capita. For Ireland, that means roughly looking at GNP (not GDP). And with the CSO release of national accounts data for the second quarter we find that Ireland has now moved into its third year of falling quarterly GNP:

It is also pretty meaningful, in that our real income (in aggregate) is 17% lower than immediately prior to the onset of this depression.

I would fully expect this to continue a bit longer yet. The economy is trying to deflate itself (i.e. Irish prices need to fall relative to other countries) and we have to repay a lot of debt owed to foreigners, which means no available capital to invest (it isn't the banks' fault) and a need to cut back on consumption to repay these foreigners.

These are pretty drawn out adjustments occurring. This is one drawn out depression we are in the midst of.

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