Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tracking the ongoing media mania over alleged parallels to The Great Depression

I am endeavoring to track the current media mania of attempting to draw parallels between the current economic situation and The Great Depression. I am doing this by using Google News to count the total number of "news" references to the phrase "The Great Depression" in the previous 24 hours.

  • 1/10/2009: 411 hits
  • 1/30/2009: 319 hits
  • 2/6/2009: 308 hits
  • 2/25/2009: 389 hits
  • 3/10/2009: 306 hits
  • 3/24/2009: 285 hits
  • 4/9/2009: 93 hits
  • 4/28/2009: 184 hits
  • 4/30/2009: 195 hits
  • 5/7/2009: 184 hits
  • 5/21/2009: 167 hits
  • 6/5/2009: 99 hits
  • 7/8/2009: 170 hits
  • 7/22/2009: 177 hits
  • 7/29/2009: 189 hits

Although there has been a recent increase in the apparent mania, I would still say that it does appear that the media mania has peaked, although we are still quite a ways from being able to say that the mania is "over." The good news is that the media mania has not dramatically worsened.

The recent increase is likely due to disappointment that we did not see a significant uptick in economic activity in June. People were hoping that the second-half recovery would be showing more "green shoots" in June.

Another possibility is that the term "resonates" and that the media is more than happy to cling to a term that almost assures that readers will pay attention. How long will it continue to "resonate"? Maybe until the overall economy and employment are reliably rising month after month for at least six months.

Actually a fair amount of the usage at this stage is not comparison directly to The Great Depression, but simply using The Great Depression as a sort of bookend an in "since the Great Depression." Still, the media is clearly getting a lot of mileage out of the term even if they are not adding much in the way of useful information.

-- Jack Krupansky

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