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Deja Vu: Are We Back In A 1930s Economy?


Today’s economy is looking a lot like the 1930s.

Companies are unwilling to spend, inflation expectations keep falling, growth is constrained—and the trigger for the current economic stumbling was the 2008 crisis, which left a haze of debt and deleveraging, just as regulations tighten on the banking sectors, Bloomberg reports. 

A similar economic storm preceded the 1930s slump, according to a team of Morgan Stanley analysts led by economist Chetan Ahya.

"The critical similarity between the 1930s and the 2008 cycle is that the financial shock and the relatively high levels of indebtedness changed the risk attitudes of the private sector and triggered them to repair their balance sheets,” wrote Chetan and his team.


Chetan isn’t the first to draw a similarity between now and the Great Depression era. $82B fund manager Ray Dalio wrote in a January op-ed for the Financial Times that the global economic slump and deflation come from reaching the end of a long-term debt super-cycle—something that normally lasts 50 to 75 years.

Dalio says investors can’t be convinced to take on debt for risky assets while returns sit at historically low levels. This lack of incentive for risk-taking throws a wrench in central banks’ plans to spike prices for these assets through low interest rates and quantitative easing. 

Under Dalio’s view, central banks won’t have any tools to halt the next financial crisis or recession. [Bloomberg]