A Recession Survival Guide

A Recession Survival Guide by Charles Hugh Smith – Of Two Minds

The funny thing about slashing your budget to survive a recessionary storm is that it works wonders whether the recession is deep or shallow.

We know that after 10 years of expansion, a recession is baked in. Trees don’t grow to the moon, etc.

We also know that some people will hardly notice the recession while others are devastated. I addressed this in The Recession Will Be Unevenly Distributed(January 10, 2019). A retiree on Social Security and a bit of income from Treasury bonds isn’t going to be affected much, and a power couple in Washington DC who are high up the food chain in the federal government will also shrug off the recession.

What we don’t know is what kind of recession we’re going to get. It’s been almost 40 years since the U.S. experienced a “real recession,” i.e. a downturn that was severe and not limited to narrow slices of the economy.

The recession of 2008-09 was over before it started, and the damage was largely limited to the speculative housing-mortgage sectors and finance and everyone who was over-leveraged in the housing market.

The recession of 2000-02 was limited to the tech sectors that were exposed to the dot-com meltdown and investors in speculative dot-com companies.

The recession of 1991-92 was brief and shallow by historical standards.

The “real recession” of 1981-82 laid waste to numerous sectors and spread devastation throughout the economy. Interest-sensitive industries were crushed, and this impacted sectors such as government that are typically impervious to recessions.

Even further back, the Oil Shock recession of 1973-74 was also an economy-wide upheaval.

Those pundits who aren’t denying a recession is baked in are busy assuring us it will be a mere slowdown. What the well-paid pundits of the status quo can’t or won’t discuss is the economy’s fragility and vulnerability to self-reinforcing declines.

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