Smith & Williamson

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It is the worst of all possible worlds, as it is when you have a flat or falling economic growth in conjunction with high inflation. It is what some social people call a death spiral, a predicament that is very difficult to break-out of. This is why Paul Volcker, the existing Fed Chief, went to such drastic actions to break the spiral. The 3rd factor that resulted in the 1981 Recession was the Oil Embargoes of 1967-1968 and 1973-1974. You can easily see one Charts 1 and 2 that both induced economic chaos followed by negative growth and two recessions.

These were like the before shocks that strike just prior to the Big One. This might also be one reason why the unemployment rates for the 1981 downturn aren’t remembered as vividly as they must be. This earlier tough economy resulted in higher unemployment rates (10.8%) that remained above 10% a lot longer than the same rates do these times.

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Our current unemployment problems have quite a distance to go before they break the durability record of the 1981 downturn as well. For example, unemployment strike its low point of 5.9% 2 yrs before the 1981 recession started and didn’t get back to that level until 6 years following the recession was over. I don’t keep in mind anyone complaining about how terrible a job President Reagan was doing getting people back again to work, do you? Under his Presidency he previously unemployment rates above 8% from the end of 1981 to the beginning of 1984! It didn’t get below 7% until 1986!

Do you think today’s Right-wing Conservatives who are in power now said one term of complaint against Reagan in the past? I think not. (Darn these soapboxes, they keep jumping in front of me.) Anyway, unemployment was at 4.2% only six months before the official start of 2007 downturns. We don’t know if will ever get that low again since 5-6% is normal.

Notice how I’ve not brought up either President Carter or President Reagan to be associated with the reason behind this recession? That is because Personally, I don’t think these are. From the conversation above that the real culprits were the Arab essential oil moguls and Paul Volcker’s necessary a reaction to the calamity they triggered, not see. President Carter is out of the picture because the stage was arranged for the big fall when he took office in 1977. He previously no control over the rapid upsurge in oil prices and the reaction by Paul Volcker. The 1981 recession was a done deal and had a need to happen.