With global trade down more than in 1930, is this the Greatest Depression?


This morning I wrote about Paul Krugman telling the World Business Forum that global trade had fallen more in the current recession than it did in 1930, the year after the crash of 1929. Although the global economy has shown signs of improvement since April 2009, a widely discussed article by economists Barry Eichengreen and Kevin O'Rourke, A Tale of Two Depressions, argues that the current recession was worse during its first ninth months than the comparable time during the Great Depression.

Before getting into the details, I was a bit shocked to see Krugman's finding because in March 2008, I wrote a piece, Is This The Greatest Depression? My argument back then was that some simple math argued that it would not take much of a decline in the bulging portfolios of toxic waste balancing shakily on a sliver of equity to wipe out all the capital on the books of banks and hedge funds. But I had not bargained on the U.S. throwing $23.7 trillion against the problem.