As I’ve mentioned before, the U.S. government has no formal standards for defining when a recession turns into a depression. The consistently smart and useful Calculated Risk blog argues that by the conventional yardstick of economists–a peak-to-trough GDP contraction of 10 percent or more–we’re only a third of the way there. Assuming a 7 percent rate of contraction for the first quarter of 2009, CR points out that the economy would have to go on declining at a 6.6 percent rate for another year to turn what we’re experiencing now into a depression.
But according to a Rasmussen poll released yesterday, 53 percent of Americans currently think we’re headed for a ’30s-style debacle. Also of interest: Just 32 percent of parents with children living at home think their kids will eventually have it better than they did.