Strategy

Economic recession: Name that downturn

Reset? Depression? The current economic slump is in need of a snappy name.

We know the current economic slump is shaping up to be the worst since the Great Depression, so doesn’t it deserve its own snappy name? Dana Love, a vice-president at fund management company Invesco Trimark and lead manager of its Trimark Fund, told a forum in January that fund managers are referring to the downturn as a “reset.”

He’s on the right track, but this idea needs a bit of flourish. After all, we’re talking about an unprecedented economic period.

Some bloggers have taken to calling this period, which started with the onset of the credit crisis in August 2007, “Great Depression 2.0” or “the New Depression.” Michael Nystrom, editor of the website depression2.tv, asks on a posting: “The Second Great Depression — Is this IT??” “To me it seems like it is time to fire up Depression2 once again,” he says. You read that correctly; Nystrom has tried Depression2 before, but he was ahead of his time, putting the term to work when the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates to 1% earlier this decade, setting off the housing bubble. So maybe this era needs better billing than as a sequel.

Ken Wong, a marketing and strategy professor at Queen’s University School of Business, suggests a simple criteria for a suitable moniker. “The quality I would look for,” he says, “is something that conveyed the loss of confidence in the financial system, in stocks, in government.”

How about a term that is contemporary and concise and captures a general sense of defeat? The young, Net-savvy members of Generation Y have a perfect term that expresses malaise: Meh. It kind of has a ring to it: “So grandma, how did you survive during the Big Meh?”