What Would Depression 2009 Look Like?

Boston.com has a really thought-provoking article entitled Depression 2009: What would it look like?. The subtitle answers: “Lines at the ER, a television boom, emptying suburbs. A catastrophic economic downturn would feel nothing like the last one.”

This is one of those “Duh!” articles that makes you see the obvious. As the article notes:

Most of us, of course, think we know what a depression looks like. Open a history book and the images will be familiar: mobs at banks and lines at soup kitchens, stockbrokers in suits selling apples on the street, families piled with all their belongings into jalopies. Families scrimp on coffee and flour and sugar, rinsing off tinfoil to reuse it and re-mending their pants and dresses. A desperate government mobilizes legions of the unemployed to build bridges and airports, to blaze trails in national forests, to put on traveling plays and paint social-realist murals.

Today, however, whatever a depression would look like, that’s not it. We are separated from the 1930s by decades of profound economic, technological, and political change, and a modern landscape of scarcity would reflect that….

Unlike the 1930s, when food and clothing were far more expensive, today we spend much of our money on healthcare, child care, and education, and we’d see uncomfortable changes in those parts of our lives. The lines wouldn’t be outside soup kitchens but at emergency rooms, and rather than itinerant farmers we could see waves of laid-off office workers leaving homes to foreclosure and heading for areas of the country where there’s more work – or just a relative with a free room over the garage. Already hollowed-out manufacturing cities could be all but deserted, and suburban neighborhoods left checkerboarded, with abandoned houses next to overcrowded ones.

And above all, a depression circa 2009 might be a less visible and more isolating experience. With the diminishing price of televisions and the proliferation of channels, it’s getting easier and easier to kill time alone, and free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance. Instead of dusty farm families, the icon of a modern-day depression might be something as subtle as the flickering glow of millions of televisions glimpsed through living room windows, as the nation’s unemployed sit at home filling their days with the cheapest form of distraction available.

While no one knows for sure just what might happen, the article puts fascinating flesh on how a downturn severe enough to be characterized as a “depression” would be experienced in today’s market. The article calls out these likely scenarios:

  • Desurburanization, and a preference for renting over owning a home;
  • The re-legitimization of hand-me-down culture (Hey, I never gave it up!), including national second-hand chains;
  • A preference for reliability over novelty and style;
  • “The neighborhood appliance shop could reappear in a new form – unlicensed, with hacked cellphones and rebuilt computers”;
  • A fatter society, “as more people eat like today’s poor” (not if Obama listens to Michael Pollan; this observation makes Pollan’s advice even more compelling with regard to government agricultural subsidies and food policy!)
  • “More crowded subways and cheap, unlicensed day-care centers” (Read the story for the explanation);

That’s far from all. And there’s even more great stuff in the comments. Thanks a lot to @hadleystern, retweeting @gregoryng for pointing me to this article. It was juicy enough that merely passing it on via a retweet wasn’t enough. I want to give it some blog link love, and a place for people to comment.

What would you have to cut in the event of a serious downturn? How would it change your life and the life of those around you? Answering that question will also make clear what some of the right policy choices are for government, as well as some interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs. Go read the story and the comments on it, then come back here and give me your ideas.

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  • http://yishaym.wordpress.com Yishay

    The more I hear, read, think about it, the more I love this recession. Consider this: web2.0 is the child of the 2000 blip. What would a real, deep recession give birth to? Collective economies (rent / share vs. buy), unleashed human capital (shift from mums at home to equal partnership at home and at work), agile resource management. Out of necessity comes ingenuity. The stampeding bulls of the last few years have made it all but impossible for innovation to get a foothold – “if it ain’t broken” etc. It is broken, we know it, but as long as the economy expands – however artificially, no one will listen. Well, now they have to. Or at least they will, once they realize that “restoring consumer confidence” is just not going to happen without a shift in producer culture.
    Yet there’s a dark side we can’t forget. Along the way to a more efficient, robust and sustainable economy, a lot of people are going to feel real pain. The question of just how much is a lot is the line between recession and depression.

  • http://yishaym.wordpress.com Yishay
  • Stefan

    A depression in a global economy may also mean cross-US-border workforce migration (the other way than what we got accustomed to). Having looked at some emerging markets just recently, during installs of new facilities in Eastern European region, a 2-4% unemployment rate in technically booming areas of some of those countries, combined with lack of experienced technical-business know-how at mid and high levels, makes that region of the world very tempting. I met there a few ex-pats, from various parts of the [still] developed world, and all of them have expressed interest in extending their stay in the emerging parts.

  • http://www.idc.com David Sonnen

    Have to agree with Yishay — A lot of good could come from the scenario described in the Globe. Collective phenomena like Open Source could thrive and mature. The social role of IT could expand and give us new ways to innovate, communicate and produce.

    Decrepit institutions like the US auto industry could be revitialized or replaced.

    A much-needed new financial architecture will almost certainly arise. (See http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/warsh20081106a.htm for an interesting insight)

    To me, it seems like a deep recession would be like a forest fire– burning dead, weak and diseased stock, so the forest can grow, renewed and healthy.

  • vanderleun

    Far, far too rosy a scenario here and at boston.com.

    A depression could easily become a very, very ugly and violent thing in a culture that has had no discipline and no consequences for a long, long time.

    There’s a reason that gun and ammo sales are up and it ain’t because cute hacking shops are going to spring up.

  • Developer Guy

    Those that think a deep recession leading to a depression would be a “good thing” long term need to reconsider what they are suggesting.

    Today, we can’t house, feed, or employ our citizen base (even considering the work that would become avail. that is currently done by those working here illegally). The US (on average) lives beyond its means. This isn’t deadwood we are talking about – it’s people – families, elderly, children.

    I have a good job, as does my wife – but I’m terrified that 2 yrs from now I’ll be searching for a way to put a roof over our heads and keep my children fed.

    The fact that we as individuals in this country were living beyond our means (and the most recent economic recovery created few new jobs) is not something that we should be looking to punish – it’s something to learn from. We need a stable economy (w/real growth) to support our citizen base.

    This is what people should be working towards…

  • http://webandlife.blogspot.com Andy Wong

    If a Bush-like President is in charge in 2009, I am pretty sure he will continue to play blame game, for example, let’s blame China, because China has been selling cheap products to US, destroying our manufacturers and taking away our jobs. Let’s blame China, because China had high inflation rate in last 2 years, and the products selling to US have become more expensive, leaving our consummers with harder life. Let’s blame China, because China has been controlling exchange rate without listening to the commands from US while US was printing money notes to pay debts. I am pretty sure a Bush-like President or alike will have more subjects to play blame game, next in line could be India, Europe and what so ever outside US.

  • http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/ Yihong Ding

    Thank you, Tim. The post is indeed incredible.

    I have also thought of this issue in another way, a positive way. The golden time of World Wide Web is coming. This is the message I want to tell after reading the original post at Boston.com and yours as well. Wishfully it is a valuable addition to this discussion.

    Yihong

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/christianschade Christian Schade

    Obviously, Open Source,Open Platforms, low-priced web-based platforms and free software in general would be the basis for creating businesses even further than today.

  • http://prayatna.typepad.com/publishing K Satyanarayan

    Maybe the small, latent cognitive surplus that Clay Shirky has been talking about will be amplified many times over.

    Hopefully that will result in something more constructive than destructive. But even small fluctuations could end up gaining momentum rapidly.

  • http://www.megginson.com/blogs/quoderat/ David Megginson

    In the U.S., there’s barely even a recession so far, much less a depression; in Canada, we’re just at flat growth.

    It took a lot of bad luck and bad decisions to make the Great Depression happen in the 1930s, and some of that is unlikely this time around — even with the problems in banking, most people haven’t pulled out their savings; even with rising unemployment, most countries haven’t torn up their free-trade agreements; even with climate change, crop yields are still high; even with financial uncertainty, unemployment is well down in the single digits (and that’s counting women, who weren’t counted as unemployed in the 1930s).

  • Ken Jackson

    There won’t be a depression in the US.

    Thank God that Bernanke was a student of the Great Depression. In fact, we couldn’t have had any better luck, because his PhD thesis was about what the government did wrong when it came to the Great Depression. So there is no one more qualified IN THE WORLD than Bernanke to solve this crisis.

    Yes, there will be a recession, but no depression.

  • http://cbplace.com Clif

    This had to happen – the pursuit of wants is infinite, nor is income, nor is the amount of debt that is carried and, most important, nor is the physical world.

    We are seeing the distinction between wants and needs start to glow with clarity in the minds of folks who had put needs far in the back of their minds for generations now. In the 1930′s people discovered the same after the mania of the 1920′s but back then people lived much closer to the level of needs before the collapse.

    Our problem now is the one we would have had to face anyway – how can capitalism, that depends on unending growth, persist on a finite planet? Even if this time of economic trouble had not come along now we would only have sped faster to the point at which it would. Mankind’s way of living must change from the American model to something sustainable and this is not something that people are going to welcome. It is likely that only a “normalization” to a sustainable way of living will bring our species back into cooperation with the natural environment. This happens to the populations of other species continually and did so with humanity as well until we jumped out of the loop for an extended period with our mastery of science and technology.

    We also have to ask – what is to provide the stimulus to provide growth now? World War II did it for the Depression, starting the explosive growth that got us where we are now. For China and India the answer is easy – there are tens of millions living at a subsistence level whose needs can be met by greatly increased production of all manner of things and there is a huge manpower base to employ doing it. Here in the U.S. we are overweight both physically and in the number of possessions we have. We have so much we need self-storage places to hold the overflow. We are not a people with the needs to drive industrial or service expansion. Our standard of need has become restaurants packed with people who leave their plates half-full and who leave to drive home in huge trucks that are only a year or two old.

    In short, we are trying to hold up a standard that is flamboyantly beyond need. Need is now in the process of being made clear to us. Contraction is inevitable and that doesn’t support the growth capitalism demands. We stand face-to-face with the contradiction that has been our way of life. We must either accept a new way of living or drive ourselves nuts and the planet over the edge by trying to re-attain a level of materialism that could never be more than a temporary spike in the history of our species, though to creatures with lifespans of less than a century it has appeared to us to be normal.

  • http://dannyman.toldme.com/ Daniel Howard

    I can’t stand TV. During my own depression during the dot-com bust, I took to spending time in coffee shops with free wireless access and libraries. You’ll see a lot more people hanging out at the local cafe / bookstore chains, and the management there may at some point break down its goodwill towards these “mallrats” …

    More home cooking with ingredients purchased from food coops and farmer’s markets, possibly. Assuming that can prove cost-effective. I lost weight in the last recession because I had more time to walk around outdoors and less money to throw at food. I found the farmer’s market a better deal than cruising the local supermarket with limited funds.

    And yeah I gave up my 2-bedroom apartment to live in a friend’s garage. I do hope housing prices will contract towards affordability.

    -d

  • Chad Capellman

    I laughed at this in the Boston.com comments

    “As an aside, Maine can certainly weather a depression because it hasn’t quite emerged from the last one.”

  • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com/ Brian Dunbar

    Yihong, you write about a golden time for the web. Tim you note that appliance shops will sell refurbished computers.

    How are these guys going to get to the internet? The last time I had DSL I was paying $40 a month. That’s not a lot but if I’m living on reduced means it’s a cost I might not be able to pay.

    Yet .. I’ve still got a computer [1] and passive TV drives me nuts. Plus I gotta look for a job somehow.

    So … leach free internet from the coffee shop. But I can’t sit there all day and they’ll expect me to pay for coffee that I don’t drink.

    This leaves .. cheap dial-up as an alternative. If the dial-up provider can bring the cost down below $5.00 a month.

    Could a depression bring back the dial-up service provider?

    Thoughts?

    [1] actually I’ve got four of them, a dozen if you count the ‘obsolete’ boxes I have stacked in the basement.

  • http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/ Yihong Ding

    @Brian,

    Thank you for the discussion. You have mentioned a very good question. It is a problem. However, it might be not a problem. Let us review history a little bit.

    We should have remembered the last dot-com bubble. Could we imagine Web 2.0 before the bubble? No. There were several essential changes happened because of the bubble. One critical change was the price of Internet subscription fee, which Friedman has discussed in his book “The World is Flat.” Web 2.0 could never have been realized by the Internet subscription fee normal users have to pay before the dot-com bubble. Due to the bubble, however, when many of these optical fiber companies bankrupted, users got very cheap Internet connection from the banks.

    In similar, when you are worrying about the price of computer and etc, the industry will reorganize according to user demand. Cheap computers that support only network access with less of luxurious OS and hardware equipment could be more popular. New companies that help people build Internet Assets in contrast to just killing time on the Web will emerge. Many new things will happen because humans are alive. When we figure out all of these resolutions to overcome the difficult time, this is what I say the coming of the Golden Time.

    Yihong

  • Andrew

    I think as far as web access (which will imo be constant or growing through a recession) we might see cut down prices through bundled services, as we’re seeing in the UK where you get your phone, TV and internet for £30 a month; and perhaps an increase in services that are monetised through advertising.

    On another note, something I’ve been enjoying immensely has been digital radio. Such an incredible amount of top-notch free content (on the BBC at least), and on my particular model of DAB, I can record mp3 direct to sd-card. Stuff like this will get cheaper and cheaper, and perhaps will allow people to experience culture together for less, and then bring their experiences online. Not to mention setting up their own stations and becoming pirate broadcasters.

    Like most times, I think people who possess energy and creativity will do OK – those who don’t might suffer. If you had to compete with others who you know are as skilled, to provide the same services, how would you increase the likelyhood that people use you? Perhaps cooperation would be necessary, but it’s hard to predict what any of this will look like.

  • Robert Wooller

    All the main media and economists are saying that this will only be a recession but then they said it wouldn’t be a recession. So why should we believe any of them when they say what they say? I think the depression next year will be prolonged and painful for the poor of this country and the world. There will be at least 10 per cent unemployed and the crime rate will go up. There will be huge drop-in centers and the new Obama government will be powerless to help anyone because they will be totally bankrupt. I don’t want to scaremonger but this depression will then go on to stage 3 third world. Yes, we will go third world and it will be horrendous.

  • Rob

    Great comments and a great thread. Three hypotheses about what happens when you mix a depression (or severe recession — at some point the distinction begins to blur) with the internet:

    1.) Things will happen faster — one of the things that it’s easy to forget is that the Great Depression was _long_ — 1929 until (depending on how you want to date such things) 1941. It was a very slow-motion train wreck. The internet is likely to increase the rate at which things fall apart (by serving as a real time source of global information and thus increasing volatility and the potential for panic) and the rate at which they come back together (by identifying and rapidly promulgating new ideas and models of commercial viability). For an interesting data point on this, see the chart at:

    http://dshort.com/charts/bears/four-bears-large.gif

    2.) Severe economic dislocation will increase the US rate of web availability not decrease it (particularly in urban areas). The primary driving force behind this will be Keynesian counter-cyclical spending. When Obama talks about government investment in infrastructure, he’s talking about 2009 infrastructure — not just bridges and roads. If things continue to deteriorate, expect heavy urban build-outs of public wi-fi, WiMax or WiMax like technology. At that point, if someone is forced to choose between TV and internet access, they’d be likely to pick internet access (they can get TV and radio access as a pass-through with web access for free, where having a TV leaves them off the information highway.

    3.) Politics will get volatile and the web will be an important force for good or ill. There is no reason to suspect that severe economic dislocation would be less politically destabilizing in 2009 than in 1929. Hungry people are prone to the worst vices of political extremism and even if the US skirts a depression this time, there are signs of extreme stress on the global economy (the Baltic Dry index is an interesting indicator for this stress. it is a proxy measure of global trade and is off 94% in 7 months). See:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2008/10/baltic-dry-index-continues-to-fall-now.html

    The upstart of this is that weaker economies will be hurt more and suffer a far greater risk of collapse. Even if the US skirts a depression, the world is likely to be a much less stable place in the next few years. The most important contribution the web might make to a potential depression, then, is political — by mobilizing and integrating political action. Obama is President because he understood the organizing power of the web, and we’re going to need all of that we can get, if things continue to deteriorate. _The_ pressing question might become, if we had the internet in 1929, how could we have prevented 1938-1945.

    I hope that we are all looking back on it in six months and counting our lucky stars on the depression that wasn’t. Still, the time to start thinking about it is now and the folks in this community are some of the best minds in the world to think about it.

  • Rob

    I posted an earlier comment about the implications of severe economic dislocation in a web-enabled world. I wanted to follow up on that with some additional thoughts and a few questions:

    First, the global economic situation continues to degrade. Domestically, this is taking the form of a significant spike in layoffs and corresponding unemployment, a marked deterioration in virtually every economic indicator and a lagging decline in market valuation. Globally, this is taking the form of rapidly worsening economic conditions, dramatically decreased global trade, and genuine risks to national solvency in a significant number of countries. In a nutshell: things are bad and will likely get worse.

    With monetary policy already having been eased nearly as much as possible (the Fed can’t lower the overnight rate lower than zero), the future government response to this can only be massive infusions of direct and indirect capital. We’re seeing this in fits and starts now with government support for the financial community and soon the Big 3 automobile manufacturers. What will come behind this is a wave of government spending unlike anything anyone has seen since the great depression. The following chart gives a sense of the amount of money _already_ pumped into the system:

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/bailout-pie.png

    This chart shows that we have already pledged more in Federal assistance for this bailout than for all of the projects listed above – The Apollo Project, the Vietnam War, The Louisiana Purchase, etc. – combined. This is only the beginning. If things continue to deteriorate in the months ahead, expect dramatic increases in Keynesian spending – direct government spending to stimulate the economy. Interestingly enough, as Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman wrote this morning:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/worries-about-next-year/

    The biggest challenge in the near term will likely be figuring out how the government can spend enough money quickly enough to stave off the worst of what’s coming. The money will flow like water, but most of it will be wasted because of inadequate planning.

    Which leads to an interesting question for this community: what would a technological Marshall plan look like for the US? If we were to implement a Tech WPA, with massive and direct federal support for an unprecedented technology infrastructure build-out of this country, what would we build? We shouldn’t think small here. The amount of money coming would fund:

    • Armies of displaced autoworkers building “Obama PCs” – fulfilling the nation’s commitment to provide every citizen with a reliable laptop and high speed connection to the web, free-of-charge (or at least at heavily subsidized prices).

    • An “Apollo Project for the Web” – a consortium of private and public organizations working to achieve some impossible goal of web functionality or penetration.

    • “10 million smart web 2.0 businesses” – government sponsorship of technology related to domestic and international web 2.0 and long-tail commerce. Development of forums, SW, HW, and research to support domestic microfinance in the technology space.

    What is crucial is thoughtful planning now. Who are the people who would have the best answers to these questions? What are the forums that could be created quickly to arrive at plausible answers and how can political support for such answers be secured? Again, if things continue heading in their current direction, massive Keynesian spending is inevitable. The question before us is how this money could be spent to lay the groundwork for true game-changing technological progress.

  • Upen Yuri Eyes

    Ok, I think it’s great to have hope but take a copy of this comment and print it out. If I am wrong I will eat my shorts!

    The US s going to hit the biggest depression of it’s history. You don’t understand that the US really doesn’t OWN anything anymore. People are not nearly as self sufficient as they were in the 20′s and 30′s.

    I am afraid that this is it, the empire is collapsing and there is not a damn thing ANYONE can do about it.

    The next industry you will see hit are the retail chains, then the real estate markets. Once you see this happen in “early 2009″ you should count your pennies and buy a farm, prepare for something we’re all going to dread.

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you’ll need to choose the correct tunnel! Stay together, work together and share together. Local economics is the best way out of this.

    Good luck everyone!
    clonus at gmail dot com

  • http://www.snare-trap-survive.com Bruce

    This sounds like a very hopeful view. How does the unemploy pay for their house, electric, cable bill after the unemployment runs out? How do they have money for food? Uneployment well be 14 to 20 % by this next year.

    Only people who have prepare well make it food, seeds, garden guns, traps snares, it is going to be worth more then gold.

  • http://www.nickpoint.co.uk Nick Barker

    I agree with David Sonnen & Christian Schade, we need to see this as an opportunity. After all what is the alterative? I think our industry will undergo transformational change. Along with many other sectors including the auto, financial, etc. The past excessive liquidity, driven by the Fed and mind bogging city bonuses will dry up.

    Hopefully we will evolve to more realist world of sharing and reuse. Much of Web2.0, Opensource and social media brings me hope. I believe Opensource will form the basis all future software and the colossal software profits of the industry giants will diminish (as per my post http://nickpoint.co.uk/2008/12/05/the-future-of-software-opensource-but-wheres-the-profit/). Unfortunately, change can be painful.

  • http://tylerwillis.net Tyler Willis

    Sure “free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance” might end in a nation of television-watching, under-productive, fatties–but it also holds the promise of a better world.

    Internet access has become cheaper than cable television. Already the crossover point has been reached were kids use the computer more than the television and depressions accelerate trends.

    Clay Shirky has brought to our attention the relatively minor amount of group time it takes to create a world class addition to humanity’s knowledge base, like wikipedia.

    In the absence of thought-provoking work and with an acceleration in internet use, might we actually see people migrate towards spending more entertainment time building or participating in interesting projects, rather than passively decaying?

  • http://tylerwillis.net Tyler Willis

    Sure “free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance” might end in a nation of television-watching, under-productive, fatties–but it also holds the promise of a better world.

    Internet access has become cheaper than cable television. Already the crossover point has been reached were kids use the computer more than the television and depressions accelerate trends.

    Clay Shirky has brought to our attention the relatively minor amount of group time it takes to create a world class addition to humanity’s knowledge base, like wikipedia.

    In the absence of thought-provoking work and with an acceleration in internet use, might we actually see people migrate towards spending more entertainment time building or participating in interesting projects, rather than passively decaying?

  • Travis

    What? No comments about starvation? What about the huge amount of gun purchases?
    People, this will not be an opportunity unless you delight in the death of people.
    We have folks robbing Santa Claus and people stealing pots from the salvation army and it hasn’t even gotten that bad yet.
    When people move out of the cities, they will be looking for a cozy home to break into and people to scare away.
    I just purchased my first gun and I;m proud.

  • anil

    2009 recession will get over in end nov and then hope we live in peace

  • Chris

    Blah Blah Blah, people please be positive you are all programming youselfs into a depression.

  • Kevin

    Morons do not deserve a free country. Most US men are clueless, movie watching, video game playing ID 10 Ts that could not care less about anything, except if their favorite sport team wins. The West in general is about to collapse. Who cares right?

  • http://www.fifthhorseman.com Fifth Horseman

    Pestilence, War, Famine, Death and nifty WEB 2.O ;-) !!! Here come the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, I wonder if one of them has an iphone I can borrow?

    This article and most of the comments posted here are a great example of how the U.S. and the rest of the world are going to be in for a serious wake up call.

    It’s real, real hard to get “online” in a third world country. Without any “jobs” you wont be able to afford things like “food”, “medicine”, “electricity” which will make your “blackberry” and “ipod” seriously hard to use. “Couldn’t happen here in the good ol’ U.S. of A” you say. Go outside and take a look around. Half of Mexico now occupy half of the U.S. They have no problem working for 3 bucks an hour on whatever kinds of service jobs are left here. As far as the manufacturing jobs, well… we send THOSE silly jobs to well… Mexico and China. Americans don’t want to pay their rent, bills, healthcare (HA HA HA), or eat.

    It is a fact that there are WAY too many people here and not enough resources to go around for everyone. There is a solution though… WAR. Kill off the useless eaters and consumers. Destroy the disposable buildings that make up the U.S. so that we can spend years rebuilding them. Plenty of work and food for everyone who was smart and lucky enough to survive. That is basically what happened in WWI and again in WWII. Maybe this time around we can show certain groups of people how to use condoms so that we don’t have to go through this again in another few decades. Saint Obama used the word “Change” in every sentence he spoke. I don’t think that his idea of “Change” is what the rest of the world had in mind.

    P.S. Any grammar Nazis out there, be sure to meticulously scan this post for any typographical errors or misspellings. It is always the next step in retaliation to somebody who states the obvious. When you are through proof reading and bringing any punctuation errors to my attention, please explain how the U.S. will spring back from a situation like this (i.e. a country literally overflowing with cheap labor and no jobs). Thanks.

  • Retired at 24

    The big problem is for years many people in Usa lived beyond their means. They never saved any money and used credit cards to buy stuff they could not afford. They assmumed that their homes would forevever appreciate. We have boom and bust cyclical cycles. Most have no clue how to save or live within their means they only know how to spend more than they make I know this after travelling to 30 countries and 41 Us states. Good luck to all in 2009 you will need to use your survival skills.

  • Cassadra Richards

    Local computer repair shop saved my big Fry’s computer when Frys’s told me it could not be fixed and I needed to by a new one. I paid Fry’s sixty dollars for the diagnosis. I was gonna throw the computr out. But when I was at the strip mall I noticed a small eletonic shop. This guy fixed it. Still can’t believe it’s fixed and that Fry’s lied! Big irresponsible corporations need to go bellyup.

  • Stacey Weller

    I haven’t read all of the comments above and maybe someone has already stated this but maybe a depression 2009 would humble us enough as a nation that we take a step backwards, look at our priorities, re-learn to love and forgive family and friends, build and mend bridges, and execute some service muscles towards others. I could see this as a very hard time but a blessing we can look back on and think that maybe we are having labor pains of an evolving, growing, and changing nation. Stacey Weller. Washington State.

  • Alan Unknown

    Does anyone remember the 1987 series Max Headroom?

    It showed a world in a depression just like what everyone here is describing.

    It is funny that someone thought it up back in 1987 and we are about to live through it now.

  • jenny

    F!$# the recession or depression. As long as I have my t.v, couch and oreos with milk its all mother F@#!$% good!

  • http://www.furiousdreams.com/blog/ Victoria Webb

    Local small farmers with whom I’ve been working are the best prepared to weather a depression. Heck they’ve been ‘weathering’ (sorry) depression their whole lives.
    Michael Pollan has the right idea. It’s just plain stupid to grow shrimp here, process it in SE Asia, and then send it back again.

    We should be more worried about climate change and future impacts to agriculture. That’s going to create a real problem across the globe. So buy locally from farmers markets, lobby your legislators to cut back on coal and ramp up the solar & wind.

    ps there’s an interesting article in this week’s New Yorker; The Dystopians, by Ben McGrath. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/01/26/090126fa_fact_mcgrath

  • jinny fumes

    Men are kissing in the streets,no death penalty for child rapists ,illegals marching with their Mexican flags in the streets,people can’t afford medical care,already over 10000 murders here a year,in this economic time Obama alloying money for abortions over seas ,wallstreet CEOs and politicians raping us,our dumb war overseas,bush’s war overseas,no jobs,unemployment-people better wake up!!We are a nation of morons,the poor breed like bunnies and that’s part of the problem,we manage over populated animals-why don’t we do that here ?we need religion or some good teachers,give your kid an ass kicking when he’s playing video games for hours,toughin him up.All this computer talk?It makes some sense but when hunger and crime take hold,people will be human survelance cameras in their neighborhoods,we will be kicking mexicans out of food lines.I wouldn’t say apocolypse but something close.Store food,I am.Just like in the last depression a world war will spring up-Watch.We are a nation of fat spoiled morons,already tried Roget into Canada,it’s tough.

  • singledad1234

    youtube Peter Shiff Gerald Celente

    and Alex Jones and wake up

    the bilderburgs control everything
    and thats what they want

  • http://aol The Red Brahmin

    I was born in 1942. Went to a state college for $100 a year, and a private for $1000 a year, and got my MA for free. Worked in a state job for 33 years and got out at 59.6 years of aged with 80% pension. Also, 27 in the military and got a pension at age 60. i have never owned a shrare of stock and therefore did not loose a penny in the current market. I studied history and could see a long time ago that the rich at the top of our society did not want a middle class emulating their lifestyles and would prefere aristocracy of the rich over democracy of the masses. my own portfolio is three beautiful children, three lovely grandchildren, a lovely wife and a decent home.
    I also wrote that our commonality is our humanity,
    that everyone is a human being with a mind and a history
    That i respect you because you are.
    That a man is not measured by the thickness of his portfolio but by the weight of his social conscience.
    My parents lived through the Depression and never recovered from the trauma. I have always bought day old bread, looked for sales and cook at home.
    to describe the feelings of so many in this society, i wrote

    A storm is raging in my head
    filling me with fear and dread
    my thoughts I cannot put in speech
    Those who hear me do not heed
    Who i am or what I need
    My hand extended does not reach

  • http://aol The Red Brahmin

    I was born in 1942. Went to a state college for $100 a year, and a private for $1000 a year, and got my MA for free. Worked in a state job for 33 years and got out at 59.6 years of aged with 80% pension. Also, 27 in the military and got a pension at age 60. i have never owned a shrare of stock and therefore did not loose a penny in the current market. I studied history and could see a long time ago that the rich at the top of our society did not want a middle class emulating their lifestyles and would prefere aristocracy of the rich over democracy of the masses. my own portfolio is three beautiful children, three lovely grandchildren, a lovely wife and a decent home.
    I also wrote that our commonality is our humanity,
    that everyone is a human being with a mind and a history
    That i respect you because you are.
    That a man is not measured by the thickness of his portfolio but by the weight of his social conscience.
    My parents lived through the Depression and never recovered from the trauma. I have always bought day old bread, looked for sales and cook at home.
    to describe the feelings of so many in this society, i wrote

    A storm is raging in my head
    filling me with fear and dread
    my thoughts I cannot put in speech
    Those who hear me do not heed
    Who i am or what I need
    My hand extended does not reach

  • Lisaw

    The real economy in the US is going to come to a complete standstill within the next 5 years.

    When it does, companies will have to ask workers to work for the sake of work, with delayed compensation.

    I’m sad to see it come to this, but greed topples economies.

    And disease too. Watch out for the bird flu, I predict it within 7 years time.

    Store food and water.

  • Lisaw

    The real economy in the US is going to come to a complete standstill within the next 5 years.

    When it does, companies will have to ask workers to work for the sake of work, with delayed compensation.

    I’m sad to see it come to this, but greed topples economies.

    And disease too. Watch out for the bird flu, I predict it within 7 years time.

  • Mark Castro

    This is my strong opinion on today’s current econonmic condition. The country’s U.S. economic situation is not any different than a large company that has gone out of business. Look…..how many people really understand business? I believe I do! I invented, operated, and ran a successful business. I would be willing to bet that 60-75% of business today are a ticking time bomb!!! We are going to see many more companies drop like a swatted fly!! I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I guess when people sit around and think “oh… the economy will bounce back” they are clueless. If you could pick 30 companies and take a look at their profit and loss, balance sheet, etc., within 6 months 20 out of those 30 will be in a BK….gone. We will see the economy blow up and crash on the ground in 6 months. 1000 billion dollars delays the crash, it’s a parachute, you eventually hit the ground. Sorry to be so negative, but after understanding how business works and knowing for a fact that companies are so upside down,(you can stay in business and lose money for years at a slow rate)when the CFO’s of this country look at their financials and sit in their chairs they stare out the window and know the impending doom is lurking for the company, people, vendors, customers, and ultimately our country. Any wagers on when we will hit the ground on fire?!
    I believe in Capitalism and the freedom to make as much money as legally as possible, but with that freedom comes risk and sometimes consequences. People became obsessed and crazy over home equity and spent it quickly. We are the loud, big, and agressive American people. The people of this country will all pay for other peoples crazy decisions on mortgages. A depression in the U.S is not a big deal for the rest of the world emotionally and psycholgically. Tijuana isn’t so bad as long as you know who and where to avoid……..people get ready to be forced how to be street smart and vigilant!!

  • jose

    The focus of the world turned to power, entertainment, information technology. The farming sector which requires toiling and hard work was neglected. Things will improve if we give importance to farming
    Jose V j

  • MITCH

    cant you all see we are in one now.. when does it get better??!

  • Jason

    I think this is what it is, a severe recession. your portfolios will return, in time. This isn’t going to lead to absolute anarchy, sure increased crime – as with any previous recession – but do not go spend your life savings on guns and ammo, that would too American, and stupid of you!

    Have some common sense, even the a$$ holes who drove us in this mess want to continue to live lavish lifestyles. Likely driving us to the ground first, but theyll be the first to pick us up, put us to work, make more and more money, and get this economy rolling. lets face it, the people who make all the money are just the smart ones using fat stupid Americans for what they are best for, labor! Without these CEO’s, were all F*%$ed! its a messed up concept, but without entrepreneures, we got even bigger problems.

    If we compare the infamous Great Depression,unemployment was 25%, GDP declined by 33%, land values were cut in half, and the Federal Reserve contracted money supply buy 80%. These circumstances were much worse. And even though we have double digit unemployement, poor GDP, The Fed is increasing money as a last resort lender.

    Please look to the upside people, every time were in a recession, its always different, its always bad,and it always leads to irrational behavior. To give the people out there with portfolios down upwards of 50% peace of mind, remember we are a society that reacts based on emotion.
    So dont liquidate your stocks, bonds, mutual funds and flee to GIC’s or Term deposits, this will solidify your losses which you will never recover. Stay invested, go to work if you have a job, if you dont, find one, fill up your car with gas, go the convienience store and buy smokes, pop, candy, gum, after work stop by wal-mart to buy easter presents and a bottle of scotch. The world will not stop because you are a pessimist. The people who allow themsleves to better adapt, will prosper, if you don’t, you will fail, guaranteed.

  • Common Sense

    Yes US is in a recession. It is worse than a triple dip recession if there is such a thing. The American dream of a home mortgage, car loan and a platinum mastercard has come back to bite us. Living beyond our means and blaming others for lack of money is a common trait. Our habits are to spend more than we earn.

    Also we have to remember that if any country including the US goes into a depper recession or depression; then there is no rule or guarantee that it might recover in a couple of years. During the last recession it took more than 15 years to recover. Japan was in a recession for almost 10 years in the 90′s. At least the Japanese people had some savings when the recession began. In the US right now people have negligible savings.

    Give me one simple reason why the US will ever come out of this mess after so much damage is already done?

    And please don’t tell me that things always turn around and there will be sunny days. Because all of us know that is just an opinion, hope and we still do not have a plan.

    Yes things will get much worse in the coming years. Unemployment, poverty, hunger will be a common thing. The important thing is whether you can survive and witness the collapse of the economy?

  • http://www.printcompass.com Barry Walsh

    “Remember…Tuesday is Soylent Green Day”

    “Soylent Green is People!!!!”

  • http://www.calorey.com cal orey

    I mentioned some of the things in this article…recently when on a radio program. Many of the observations are no-brainers: crowded ER rooms, more TV watching, ghostowns, renting vs owning a home…

    As a health author I also know people are going to lose their health if they do not eat right and exercise during turbulent times. Food banks often have high fat, high sodium, high chemical type-foods, don’t they?

    Folks, you have to become self-reliant and eat healthfully–the Mediterranean diet with regular exercise…as I practice and preach in all my books. Dish up seasonal fresh fruits/veggies, whole grains (buy in bulk or on sale), fresh fish (catch it or on sale or buy tuna), olive oil as your main fat…and dark chocolate for its disease-fighting antioxidants and feel-good compounds…don’t forget to get a move on to help fight the blues during an uncertain future. And, by doing this you will keep the medical bills down and your well-being up.

  • Stephen

    We spend our money in rent or mortgage. That is why we got no extra money on Wants. Obama doing the same thing what Hoover did in the begining of 1929.

  • http://www.flairjax.com jason

    It would look like this http://www.2009depression.com

  • Johnny Mack

    I believe we are heading into a deep depression that will dramatically change the way that we live in the future. The economists have tried to use an economic model based on regarding the histories of the past and have not taken all the factors of humanity, ecology, and the mental-spiritual well-being of the citizens. The economists think in terms of “growth”, “trade”, “productivity”, “monetary models”…etc. that do not regard the influences of nature and man’s place within Gaia.
    There needs to be a new form of government and the merchants especially the souless multi-national corporations need to learn to adopt human ethical traits or they will be gone like the dinosaurs. If we believe things will get better under the existing globalisation models then we will surely come to a world war III very soon and history will be repeating itself/

  • Russ Motion

    If you study the 1929 Depression you begin to see certain characteristics in abundance. Those same features are and have been present in the US economy. Anyone that can not see them are in denial or blind. If you go back to the economic charts you will see that the GDP recovered and companies did function. But what did not recover for 10-16 years is the economic destruction of a large portion of the population. Mass poverty.
    Thats where this is headed make no mistake about it. The slow drain of the wealth of the US population. Jobs, homes, 401K’s, family wealth,
    etc. The so called recession is in it’s 18 month.
    As the US looses a huge number of jobs so goes the wealth of the country in the 1920′s and in
    2009. The bailouts have only slowed the process.
    But the economic drain continues. With the
    rise in gas we may be headed for the same maliase
    we had last year. The trigger was $3.75 – $4.00
    a gallon gas. In my estimation the trigger will be much lower since the population is already economicly drained.

  • Russ Motion

    If you study the 1929 Depression you begin to see certain characteristics in abundance. Those same features are and have been present in the US economy. Anyone that can not see them are in denial or blind. If you go back to the economic charts you will see that the GDP recovered and companies did function. But what did not recover for 10-16 years is the economic destruction of a large portion of the population. Mass poverty.
    Thats where this is headed make no mistake about it. The slow drain of the wealth of the US population. Jobs, homes, 401K’s, family wealth,
    etc. The so called recession is in it’s 18 month.
    As the US looses a huge number of jobs so goes the wealth of the country in the 1920′s and in
    2009. The bailouts have only slowed the process.
    But the economic drain continues. With the
    rise in gas we may be headed for the same maliase
    we had last year. The trigger was $3.75 – $4.00
    a gallon gas. In my estimation the trigger will be much lower since the population is already economicly drained.

  • Elon Weakley

    We need to all think about our priorities and pray that God would give us wisdom for whatever is to come. It is a good time to seek His face and return to Biblical roots. God has always taken care of those who seek Him and this is no different. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard but not impossible with His help. Our families are the most important thing He has given us and this is a good time to focus on those blessings which are our true riches. Learn to garden and preserve food as well. Even if you live in an apartment, you can container garden, etc. Pray for creative solutions and wisdom beyond your years.

    Elon

  • http://hubpages.com/hub/greatdepression Depression 2009

    Honestly, I am not as concerned about the effect this depression has on people, during the depression, it is post depression I am concerned about.

    What will the nation of America look like post 2009-2010 Depression? We have already seen the socialistic mind of Obama destroy many lines between Corporate America and The United States Government. The Socialists in America are now attempting to do the same with health care. Before they are finished there will be no division left between the Federal and the Corporate.

    They will have destroyed the American Dream and replaced it with the Great American Nightmare. The real problem will be that it is a nightmare that the American people will never be able to awaken from, and the few who refuse to submit will be the enemies of those who do submit.

  • operatorc

    If it’s not socialism from the left, it’d be continued fascism from the right. We were already seeing the line blur between “the Federal and the Corporate.” Except, now we’re going to see less Church merging with the state and big business. So, there’s at least one positive change.