More on the Unusually Weak Recovery

The weak recovery continues to be a major topic. Over the weekend, Russ Roberts issued the second episode of his three part “chartcast” series on the topic, which is based on interviews with me and builds on his highly-regarded podcast series, but with helpful charts and illustrations. (Here is the first episode). Among other things we discuss the work of Mike Bordo and Joe Haubrich on the unusual nature of this recovery, and their views of the work by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff.Also, as Jon Hilsenrath and Ezra Klein report, over the weekend Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff released a short rebuttal to Bordo and Haubrich as well as to several opeds. Reinhart and Rogoff argue in favor of a narrower definition of a financial crisis, and they thus focus on a subset of the eight Bordo-Haubrich recessions with financial crises (for example, they exclude 1913 and 1982). This alone does not change the Bordo-Haubrich results as the figure in my post of last week makes clear. But Reinhart and Rogoff argue that one should look at the downturn as well as the recovery when looking at severity. There is no disagreement that recessions associated with financial crises have tended to be deeper than those without financial crises. The disagreement is over the recoveries. By mixing downturns with recoveries Reinhart and Rogoff get different results from Bordo and Haubrich.

But the question for policy now is whether the recovery has been unusually slow compared to earlier recoveries from recessions with financial crises, and the evidence is still clear that it has been. Papers in the book Government Policies and the Delayed Economic Recovery edited by Lee Ohanian, Ian Wright, and me show that policy is the reason.

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