REALITY CHECK: This Ain’t The Great Depression

fdrobot_1.jpgSLATE: “By the afternoon of March 3, scarcely a bank in the country was open to do business,” FDR said in his March 12, 1933, fireside chat (now available on a very cool podcast at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s Web site). In 1933, some 4,000 commercial banks failed, causing depositors to take huge losses. (There was no FDIC back then.) The recession that started in August 1929 lasted for a grinding 43 months, during which unemployment soared to 25 percent and national income was cut in half. By contrast, through mid-November 2008, only 19 banks had failed. The Federal Reserve last week said it expects unemployment to top out at 7.6 percent in 2009. Economists surveyed by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank believe the recession, which started in April 2008, will be over by next summer. (Of course, back in January the same guys forecast that the economy would grow nicely in 2008 and 2009.) But don’t take it from me. Take it from this year’s Nobel laureate in economics. “The world economy is not in depression,” Paul Krugman writes in his just-reissued book The Return of Depression Economics. “It probably won’t fall into depression, despite the magnitude of the current crisis (although I wish I was completely sure about that).” MORE

FORBES: The federal government stepped in Sunday night to bail out Citigroup and restore confidence in the financial system, promising to protect the banking giant against losses on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of troubled assets. After a week in which Citi’s shares plummeted 60% amid mounting concerns about its viability, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said they will provide protection against the possibility of “unusually large losses” on an asset pool of approximately $306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate, which will remain on Citigroup’s balance sheet. MORE

BLOOMBERG NEWS:  U.S. stock-index futures climbed as the government’s $306 billion guarantee of troubled Citigroup Inc. assets overshadowed a retreat in energy shares on lower oil. MORE

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