The economic recession of 2020 has had a significant impact on the global economy, resulting in financial hardship, job losses, and a decline in GDP. It’s easy to confuse a recession with a depression, but they are two distinct economic downturns with different effects.
While a recession is a period of general economic decline, a depression is a more severe decline, often lasting several years and affecting many aspects of the economy.
Brief History of Recession and The Great Depression
The history of the recession and The Great Depression is a long and complex one. Recessions have been documented in the United States since the mid-18th century, but the Great Depression stands out as the most extreme economic downturn in American history. It lasted from 1929 until the mid-1930s and was marked by widespread unemployment, poverty, and financial ruin.
One of the most significant impacts of the Great Depression was during World War II when international trade slowed significantly, and unemployment and poverty levels skyrocketed across many countries.
In the United States, the Great Depression caused a severe decrease in GDP, a significant increase in unemployment, and a drastic reduction in consumer spending. In other countries, it led to an increase in hyperinflation, deflation, and famine.
Recessions occur when economic growth slows down, usually due to a significant decline in economic activity, an increase in unemployment, or a decrease in investment.
During a recession, businesses suffer, and some even close their doors. People lose jobs and income, and the economy as a whole experiences a downturn.
What is a Recession?
A recession refers to an economic decline that is usually characterized by declines in GDP, employment, and economic activity as a whole. It is usually accompanied by a decrease in consumer spending, an increase in unemployment, and an increase in bankruptcies.
A recession can occur due to a variety of factors, such as a decline in exports, a decrease in investment, a fall in consumer confidence, a rise in interest rates, a decrease in lending, a stock market crash, or a combination of all of these factors.
During a recession, businesses usually cut back on investments, reduce their workforce and cut back on industrial production, leading to a decrease in economic output. This can lead to a decrease in economic growth, wage stagnation, and lower consumer spending.
What is an Economic Depression?
Economic depression is a severe, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is characterized by reduced levels of consumption, investment, income, and prices, as well as a high rate of unemployment.
Economic depressions are typically caused by a combination of several economic, political, and social factors, such as a slowdown in productivity, high-interest rates, a decrease in consumer and business confidence, and a decrease in the money supply. They can also be caused by events outside the economy, such as wars, natural disasters, and other major political upheavals.
Key Difference between Recession and Depression
Although the terms recession and depression are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two.
The primary difference between a Recession and a depression is the severity of the economic decline. A recession is a period of negative economic growth, typically defined as a decline in GDP for two consecutive quarters.
Depression is an even more severe form of economic decline, lasting longer and having a greater impact on society. Recessions are typically shorter in duration than depressions, lasting between six months to one and a half years. Depressions can last anywhere from several years to a decade or longer.
The effects of a recession can be felt in the form of decreased employment and wages, falling stock prices, and a decline in real estate values. A depression, however, is more severe and can result in a further decline in economic activity with a higher rate
Role of Recession and Depression on Economic Downturn
The global economy is an ever-changing landscape, affected by a wide range of factors ranging from government policy to natural disasters. One of the most influential of these factors is an economic downturn, especially in the form of a recession or depression.
Recession and depression can have a massive impact on economies around the world, leading to a vast range of negative implications, from reduced job security to decreased consumer spending.
Recessions and depressions have often been major contributing factors to severe economic downturns. Recessions occur when the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country experiences a significant decline for two consecutive quarters. This can lead to a reduction in business activity and investment and a decrease in employment, wages, and consumer spending. Depressions are more severe than recessions and involve a sustained, long-term decline in economic activity.
Depressions can lead to a prolonged period of reduced economic output and a decrease in living standards. Recessions and depressions can cause a variety of economic impacts. In addition to reduced business and consumer spending, they can lead to a decrease in employment, wages, and disposable income.
What are the Causes of Recession and Depression
Recessions and depressions are two of the most significant economic downturns that can have serious and long-lasting consequences.
There are a number of causes that can lead to an economic recession or depression, so it’s important to be aware of the potential causes and the potential impacts these downturns can have on an economy.
Decrease in demand leading to deflation
Deflation occurs when the prices of goods and services decrease, resulting in a decrease in purchasing power. When consumers are unable to purchase as much as they once could, demand goods and services decreases, leading to a decrease in production and employment. This decrease in production can lead to a decrease in supply, resulting in even lower prices and a further decrease in demand. This cycle of deflation can result in an economic recession or depression.
Overproduction of goods
Overproduction of goods can be a major contributing factor to these downturns. When an economy produces too much of a certain type of product or service, it is likely that demand for that product or service will decrease due to its abundance of it. This decrease in demand leads to a decrease in the amount of money circulating through the economy, as fewer people are buying and selling goods or services.
The result is a decrease in economic activity, and a severe recession or depression can occur. This can also lead to an increase in unemployment, as companies have to lay off workers due to the lack of demand for their products or services.
Increase in unemployment levels
This often occurs when there’s economic contraction, leading to a decrease in demand for goods and services. Companies then reduce their workforce to cut costs, leading to more people being unemployed. This can have a negative impact on the economy, as more people are unable to buy goods and services, which can then lead to a decrease in overall economic activity.
People who are unemployed may struggle to make ends meet, leading to further economic distress. This can cause an overall decrease in consumer spending, resulting in a cyclical downward economic spiral.
Financial mismanagement is one of the main causes of recessions and depressions. This can take the form of mismanagement of financial systems such as banking, insurance, and investments.
Poor governance, lack of oversight, and risky investments can all lead to a decrease in economic activity spread and consumer confidence, resulting in a recession or depression.
The Action of Government During Recession and Depression
Recessions and depressions are periods of economic decline characterized by high unemployment, low economic growth, and a decrease in consumer spending. The actions of governments during recessions and depressions are designed to address economic challenges and prevent long-term economic damage.
Governments typically use fiscal policies to stimulate the economy, such as providing tax cuts, increasing government spending, and reducing interest rates. Governments may use monetary policies such as quantitative easing, where the government purchases assets and supplies the economy with more money.
Governments may also offer social welfare programs to help citizens in need, such as unemployment insurance and food stamps.
Governments may undertake structural reforms to promote economic growth and reduce unemployment and inflation. The government can take a variety of actions to help the economy, such as providing tax relief, increasing spending, and reducing interest rates.
One of the most important actions is setting up the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). This organization helps to monitor changes in the national economy, such as employment and production figures.
The government also sets up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to insure people’s savings in banks, which helps to prevent economic panic and bank runs. These two organizations help to ensure that the government can take the appropriate steps to help the economy get back on track and prevent it from falling further into a recession or depression
Trade deficits due to foreign competition
This happens when a country imports more goods than it exports and results in a decrease in domestic spending and investment. This decrease in spending and investment leads to a decrease in production, lower employment rates, and reduced consumer spending.
Trade deficits can be exacerbated by global events, such as currency devaluations, tariffs, and political instability. These events can create uncertainty and cause businesses to invest less, leading to further declines in production.
The Effect of Recession and Depression
Recessions and depressions can have long-term consequences on the economy. A recession is a period of economic decline, usually accompanied by a drop in production, employment, and income.
Depression is a more severe form of recession and usually has more prolonged and lasting effects. Here are the effects of recession and depression on the economy:
Decrease in consumer spending
The most immediate effect of a recession or depression on the economy is a decrease in consumer spending. With people facing job losses and economic uncertainty, they are likely to become more cautious with their spending, which can lead to a drop in consumer demand.
This decrease in spending can cause a ripple effect, leading to reduced revenue for businesses and a consequent decrease in production, as well as layoffs and further job losses. This cycle can continue indefinitely unless something is done to stimulate the economy and encourage people to spend again.
Reduction in investment
During a recession or depression, individuals and businesses alike are hesitant to make large investments in the market, instead preferring to hold onto their money in cash reserves. This can lead to a decrease in new investments, which reduces economic output, employment, and growth.
Investment in infrastructure, economic research and development, and other economic activities can also be reduced, leading to a decrease in the competitiveness of the economy in the long term.
Increase in unemployment
When economic activity slows down, businesses begin to lay off employees in order to reduce costs and remain profitable. This leads to higher levels of unemployment, which can have a ripple effect throughout the economy, as those who are now unemployed have to cut back on their spending, leading to further reductions in economic activity. This can cause a spiral of reduced economic activity, higher unemployment, and further spending cuts.
Rise in government debt
This occurs because governments may take steps to stimulate the economy by providing financial assistance to households and businesses. This assistance can include direct payments, tax relief, and other financial incentives. However, such measures can lead to increased public spending and deficits, resulting in a rise in government debt.
A decline in business profits
The most immediately visible effect is a decline in business profits. When economic activity slows, consumers are less likely to buy products and services, leading to a contraction in demand. Businesses must then adjust their operations to meet the reduced demand. This often results in layoffs and cost-cutting measures, which can have a ripple effect across the business cycle.