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I think it was Ronald Reagan who said, "A recession is when your neighbor loses their job, a depression is when you do." The powers that be tell us the United States is in a recession now--two quarters of declining GDP growth.

Looking back over a half century, there are a few memorable recessionary periods. We'll forget the seesaw economy of the Covid Era--that was purely a government maneuver and does not count in my book.

The "kids" reference 2008. I didn't see that was a recession, that is when I started working on a string of greenfield mill projects that has not ended as of today (see Ronald Reagan quote above). Seriously, I don't think that was anything compared to circa 1978 to 1982.

The late '70's and the first year or two of Reagan's first term is the most serious recessionary times in my fifty-two years in industry. Business literally ground to a halt. Capital spending stopped and layoffs were everywhere.

Rolling back up a couple of decades, if you were in newsprint or printing & writing from about 1995 through about 2010, you thought we were in a recession. It was not, it was sector dislocation as the internet edged into our industry and wiped-out whole grades.

Today and in the future? This is a peculiar recession as compared to the past. Unemployment is low and interest rates are low as compared to similar periods in times gone by. Then there is the whole energy question which involves the Ukraine War and the drive to shift to "green" energy forms. It is complicated, and as usual, it will probably take the economists of 2050 or 2060 to look back and tell us what happened.

In the meantime, be careful out there.

Jim Thompson is CEO of Paperitalo Publications.


Get Jim Thompson's "Monograph on Purchasing." Available here.


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