by Hans Eisenbeis
I’ve been catching up on Mad Men, the hit TV series that launches its fourth season this week. As you undoubtedly know, it follows the triumphs and failures of an advertising agency in the man’s, man’s, man’s world of corporate Manhattan circa 1963. One of the things the show’s fans either love or hate is the occasional flashback to Don Draper’s horrible childhood during the Great Depression.
I bring it up because there’s been increasing chatter here among Iconoculture’s Financial Services Strategists that this recession may eventually be reclassified as a depression. Why? Because recessions have several dog-eared definitions like two consecutive quarters of negative growth in the GDP as determined by the Bureau of Economic Research. On the other hand, there really is no established economic definition of a depression ─ except a long global recession marked by bank failures, high unemployment and consumer malaise (check, check and check).
Don’t get me wrong. There are significant indicators from the BER showing slow economic growth — and that’s better than shrinkage. But ask any average consumer if they think the recession is over, and they’re likely to act a little like Don Draper, mixing strong drinks and nervously stashing cash in case things go from bad to worse. Looking to the past and comparing it to the present can do that to a guy.