Essays About

On the Self-Deflating Phrase "The Great Recession"

I doubt the phrase "The Great Recession," as applied to the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, is destined for future history books. The word "recession," by reminding us of the weightier word "depression," undercuts the adjective "great." How can it have been great if it was not great enough to be a depression? It is only great in a lesser class, a superstar of the minor league.

The phrase's makers and repeaters commit the error of overestimating the magnitude of events they happen to live through. They judge from within, like farmers in tornados who, because the sky turns black and the wind blows the roof off their house, declare the apocalypse come, though at the moment of their prophecy most of the globe basks in sunlight.