Greg Ip

Articles by The Economist’s U.S. Economics Editor

Archive for the ‘recession’ Category

The economy’s prospects: Waiting for the earth to open

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The usual accelerators of recession are absent—but so are the brakes

Aug 27th 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition

HOURS after an earthquake struck America’s east coast on August 23rd, office workers were still milling around the streets of Washington, DC and New York (above), nervously waiting for aftershocks. A similar watch over the economy is now under way. The earthquake that ripped through the American economy from 2007 to 2009 is still generating tremors. The latest may be the strongest yet. Since late July stockmarkets in America and round the world have nosedived, fearful that America is falling back into recession and that Europe’s debt crisis will drag down its banks.

America’s economy is certainly weak. It grew at an annualised rate of just 0.4% in the first quarter and 1.3% in the second. Future revisions may push both numbers into negative territory: the economy would have already double-dipped.

Much of that weakness may be traced to the run-up in oil prices that followed the Libyan uprising and to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which disrupted supply chains. As both shocks receded, economic activity turned up. An index of economic reports compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago suggests that the economy grew in July (see chart 1), though it may since have flagged again. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

August 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Response to Meltzer on Depression comparisons

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Unlike any since the Depression

Posted by:
The Economist l WASHINGTON
Monetary policy

[Greg Ip] IN MY many years of reporting on the Federal Reserve, I have turned more times than I can count to Allan Meltzer. Volume One of his history of the Federal Reserve (he’s still working on Volume Two) is one of the most thumbed books on my shelf, and I consider him one of the leading authorities on 20th century economic history. Naturally I was intrigued by his criticism of comparisons between the current period and the Great Depression in the Wall Street Journal.

It’s a fascinating piece but I have several qualms with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

September 4, 2009 at 8:16 am

Signs of economic cheer: The sun also rises

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The original article is linked here.

GREG IP plus another Economist correspondent

Aug 6th 2009 | WASHINGTON, DC
From The Economist print edition


The economy may be pulling out of recession but unemployment is still surprisingly high. Celebrations should be delayed

Illustration by S. Kambayashi


WHEN Barack Obama visited Elkhart, Indiana, in early February, a few weeks after his inauguration, it was a sombre affair. In the previous 12 months the area’s unemployment rate had more than tripled to 18.3 %. The president pleaded for the passage of a massive fiscal stimulus, insisting that “doing nothing is not an option.” By the time he returned to Elkhart on August 5th he was quite a bit sunnier. Local factories are “coming back to life”, he proclaimed. A few days earlier he had declared the economy to have done “measurably better” than expected.

Mr Obama’s good spirits are well grounded: America’s recession appears to be coming to an end. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

August 6, 2009 at 10:32 pm

America’s economy: The second derivative may be turning positive

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Feb 19th 2009 | WASHINGTON, DC
From The Economist print edition

When the going gets tough, the tough get their maths books out

 (The original article is linked here.) 

MANY of the diehard optimists on Wall Street have been beaten to a pulp by now, but those still standing have fallen back on a nifty bit of calculus. The second derivative, they say, is turning positive. That means that although the economy is spiralling down, it is doing so more slowly. Read the rest of this entry »

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February 19, 2009 at 8:10 pm

GDP: Even worse than it looks

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Jan 30th 2009

America’s economy shrank sharply in the fourth quarter. There are few reasons for optimism

The original article appears here.



IT IS a measure of the prevailing gloom that the worst economic performance in 26 years could still be described as better than expected. Real gross domestic product fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in the fourth quarter, below the decline of 5% or more that many economists had anticipated.

However, there is precious little reason for optimism. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

January 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm

George Bush’s legacy

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This was cowritten with my colleague, Washington Bureau Chief Adrian Wooldridge

The frat boy ships out


Jan 15th 2009
From The Economist print edition


Few people will mourn the departure of the 43rd president

HE LEAVES the White House as one of the least popular and most divisive presidents in American history. At home, his approval rating has been stuck in the 20s for months; abroad, George Bush has presided over the most catastrophic collapse in America’s reputation since the second world war. The American economy is in deep recession, brought on by a crisis that forced Mr Bush to preside over huge and unpopular bail-outs. 0309fb1

America is embroiled in two wars, one of which Mr Bush launched against the tide of world opinion. The Bush family name, once among the most illustrious in American political life, is now so tainted that Jeb, George’s younger brother, recently decided not to run for the Senate from Florida. A Bush relative describes family gatherings as “funeral wakes”.


Few people would have predicted this litany of disasters when Mr Bush ran for the presidency in 2000. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

January 15, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Housing, Auto Slumps May Defy Usual Role as Recession Harbingers

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By Greg Ip and Christopher Conkey
1432 words
14 December 2006

The Wall Street Journal

(Copyright (c) 2006, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)


WASHINGTON — New home construction is plummeting. Car sales are weakening. Investors have driven long-term interest rates well below the short-term rates set by the Federal Reserve. All these factors are present today, and all have been precursors of past recessions.

But the U.S. central bank and much of Wall Street are now betting that the old rules don’t apply, and that a recession next year, while possible, is unlikely.

“This time will be different,” Ed Leamer, who heads the forecasting center at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management, predicts in a report. “This time the problems in housing will stay in housing.” It’s a prediction, he admits, that “keeps us up at night.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

December 14, 2006 at 8:00 pm