Economist Says We Can End The Recession By Reducing Household Debt

Big Think recently approached five leading international economists for their best predictions on when we will be out of the mess known as our national economy.

Watch for their commentary in the Big Think blog in the coming days. And after you listen to their ideas, you can let the countdown begin.

Today's prediction is from Professor Jan de Vries of the University of California, Berkeley. De Vried is the Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History and is one of the world's leading specialists on the early modern history of economics. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and was awared the Heineken Prize for History in 2000 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

So, Professor de Vries, when will the recession end?

recession will end when three things have happened:

1. residential real estate prices reach a floor (based on rental rates and vacancy rates) that gives new buyers confidence to enter the market
2. trust is restored to commercial lending markets, which will require a belief that there are no more big surprises hidden in balance sheets and that the        regulatory environment will be predictable
3. household debt is substantially reduced

The first could happen within a year, the second is hard to predict, and the third will take longer, several years. And, as long as it is ongoing, consumer spending will be weak. This will not be greatly speeded by the stimulus package. It might slow the rise in unemployment, but won't revive spending in most sectors until the debt overhang is worked away."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less