Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paul Glastris vs the NBER Business Cycle Timing Committee

Glastris writes of Obama

"He thinks he is Reagan in reverse," notes Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, "a patient, genial game changer for the ages." The parallels are indeed hard to miss. Both men took the oath of office amid worst-since-the-Depression recessions, handed to them by administrations widely considered to have been ineffectual.

The NBER Business Cycle Timing Committee writes that there was a very brief recession (oddly miniscule and coincidentally declared less than a year before M Feldstein moved from chair of that committee to chair of Reagan's council of economic advisors) which ended in July 1980 well before January 20 1981 and then another recession which began in July 1981 well after January 20 1981.

Glastris is not a fan of Reagan, but everyone knows that the worst since the Depression recession started before Reagan too office, since July comes before January.

This is not quibbling, the 1981 recession was a recession of choice -- the last
recession deliberately induced to fight inflation.

The choice was not Reagan's it was Volcker's, but the claim that "Both men took the oath of office amid worst-since-the-Depression recessions" is simply plainly absolutely false.

I think The Washington Monthly should publish a correction.

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