Tuesday, Oct 7, 2008
Poll finds 6 of 10 believe a depression is somewhat or very likely – seeing 25% unemployed and millions homeless and hungry.
Nearly six out of ten Americans believe another economic depression is likely, according to a poll released Monday.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 Americans over the weekend, cited common measures of the economic pain of the 1930s:
25% unemployment rate;
widespread bank failures; and
millions of Americans homeless and unable to feed their families.
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In response, 21% of those polled say that a depression is very likely and another 38% say it is somewhat likely.The poll also found that 29% feel a depression is not very likely, while 13% believe it is not likely at all.
But economists, even many who feel current economic risks are dire, generally don’t believe another depression is likely.
“We’ve been in a recession all year and it’s going to get worse,” said Anirvan Banerji, director of research for the Economic Cycle Research Institute. “We’re going from a relatively mild recession to a more painful recession. But we’re a long, long way from a depression.”
A survey taken last week by the National Association of Business Economists asked members what would happen if the $700 billion bailout that passed Friday fails to fix frozen credit markets. The consensus forecast of those economists was that, even if continued problems choke off credit to businesses and consumers, unemployment would rise to just 7% in the second quarter of next year.
Other economists recently contacted by CNNMoney.com said that the unemployment rate could rise as high as 10% to 12% next year if the bailout does not work. While that could be roughly double the current 6.1% unemployment rate, it would be only half of the worst rate seen in the Great Depression of the 1930s.