The media are bombarding us with comparisons between the current recession and the great depression. Many reporters try hard to find economic measures that make our current situation seem worse than the depression.
Stock market losses over the past 9 months are one area where we seem worse off than those who experienced the losses in 1929. While Canadian stocks as measured by the TSX dropped to 5 and a half year lows last week, US stocks as measured by the S&P 500 dropped to 12-year lows.
So, US stocks prices are at levels not seen since 1997. And we all know what a stink-hole the world was back in 1997. Giant worms roamed the streets killing people. No, that was a bad movie I saw. Actually, 1997 was pretty good for me. I enjoyed my job, played sports, and had a loving young family. Life was good even without an iPod.
Current circumstances are no fun for those who have lost their jobs, but it’s hard to compare the inconvenience of having to take a lower paying job and cut back on lifestyle expenses against the depression era devastation of people walking away from dust farms because nothing would grow.
We seem to need to believe that our suffering is somehow greater or more important than the suffering of others, but in this case, it just isn’t true. We seem to be getting along reasonably well, and I’m optimistic about the future.