Krugman calls it what it is:

It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it’s important not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unemployment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.

He details the alarming rise of right-wing fringe groups throughout Europe, and concludes:

Taken together, all this amounts to the re-establishment of authoritarian rule, under a paper-thin veneer of democracy, in the heart of Europe. And it’s a sample of what may happen much more widely if this depression continues.

It’s not clear what can be done about Hungary’s authoritarian slide. The U.S. State Department, to its credit, has been very much on the case, but this is essentially a European matter. The European Union missed the chance to head off the power grab at the start — in part because the new Constitution was rammed through while Hungary held the Union’s rotating presidency. It will be much harder to reverse the slide now. Yet Europe’s leaders had better try, or risk losing everything they stand for.

And they also need to rethink their failing economic policies. If they don’t, there will be more backsliding on democracy — and the breakup of the euro may be the least of their worries.

2 thoughts on “Depression

  1. “because there’s no Hitler in sight.” There was no Hitler in sight in the late 1920’s either until the 1% decided to fully fund fascism and Hitler in order to take out the Communists and Socialists. In April and May of 1932 Hitler’s political party received over $13 million dollars in gold transfers (big money back then) from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Hitler’s party gained enough seats in that election for him to be named German Chancellor in early 1933. The rest was a piece of cake. When fear rules the people always run to the Right for protection. When that happens the Left always gets shoved into ovens.

  2. Off-topic:

    Am I the only one who has trouble reading everything in the long italicized quotes in Susie’s new format? I admit that I’m developing cataracts, but the type seems LARGE enough but is too dim.

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