The world is not ready for the long grind to come

The writer is chair of Rockefeller International

Over the past half century, as governments and central banks teamed up ever more closely to manage economic growth, recessions became fewer and farther between. Often they were shorter and shallower than they might have been. After so much mildness, most people cannot imagine a painfully lasting business cycle. But the global economy is heading into a period unlike any we have seen in decades.

Faith in government as a saviour in recessions has been worming its way into people’s minds for most of their lifetimes. Since 1980, the US economy has spent only 10 per cent of the time in a recession, compared with nearly 20 per cent between the end of the second world war in 1945 and 1980, and more than 40 per cent between 1870 and 1945. One increasingly important reason is government rescues. Combined stimulus in the US, the EU, Japan and the UK,…

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