Deep Thinking about Deep Recession

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Heaven forbid I should use the dreaded D-word, and by that I mean Depression. No, instead I’ll use another D-word: Deep.

Now, I’m no economist, but I am frequently mistaken for one at parties. At several points in my life I’ve thought about becoming an economist, and I’ve taken numerous courses in economics. But I am a cultural scholar through and through. Not an economist.

So with those caveats firmly anchored into place, I’m going to skate out onto some tempting thin ice. In this blog, I usually talk about a lot of micro-concerns that are of general interest to only a few. But today I’m going to offer some general comments about what’s going on in the world in with and happening for the last six months with our economy. I have been wanting to do this for quite a while, but have been holding myself back because, hey, it’s a brand and technology marketing blog and not a general-purpose, heavy-duty blog. Well, today maybe it’s going to try to be.

I have been reading about the global “deep” recession, as it’s being called now: increasing unemployment, home losses, financial crises, fiscal stimulus, and the impending bankruptcies of major corporations particularly in the important automotive sectors of North America, but spreading everywhere. Reading about all of this, there are some thoughts I haven’t seen expressed. I’m not claiming that these are the deepest thoughts (or even unique ones-I just haven’t come across them). But I do think that we need some different thinking about the situation that we’re in. It’s deep thinking that I’m calling for here. Innovative thinking. Novel thinking about the new situation that we face.

Let me back up. At this stage of life I’m in, with a child entering teen years, I’m gaining a new appreciation for the wisdom that age can bring. If we remember our past, that gives us insights that simply aren’t there if we are experiencing something for the first time. I’ve seen several of these recessions so far, I’ve lived through a number of them. I came out with my MBA into the job market smack in the middle of one of them. I know what they feel like.

To me, this deep recession feels different from past recessions. Over the last few months, I’ve been asking myself why that is. I think I now have a short answer. Of course all of the factors that have been mentioned such as subprime lending, mortgage and housing crises, and the interconnection of the global economy on the financial level, are all very important. But we’ve seen those stories already. We’ve heard those explanations ad infinitum. I’m going to raise some different specters.

I see three critically important factors that make this global recession different from past recessions. Those three things are:

  1. Globalization: Continental shifts in capital flows
  2. Digitization: The impact of information and communication technology diffusion on consumption
  3. Green Consumerism: Serious, widespread, planetary-scale environmental concerns finding their way into consumers’ everyday purchases

In the spirit of keeping these postings fairly short and readable, I’ll explain these three elements in the next three blog postings. I see them not so much as purely economic issues, but cultural ones, even ideological ones. Those are things that I do understand pretty well. After that, I will talk a little bit about what we can do and how I think we can begin to prompt some of the deep thinking that we so desperately need right now.

As you might be able to tell, I’m starting on some big research projects that I hope are going to be able to inform our understanding of some of these issues, spur new ideas and new solutions, and to help to implement them for positive and sustainable change.

Stay tuned.

One Response

  1. Domen March 27, 2009

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