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Home » How To Live With Economic Doomsaying: Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak (Transcript)

How To Live With Economic Doomsaying: Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak’s talk titled “How To Live With Economic Doomsaying” at TED conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Doom and Gloom

Do you ever tire of the doom, the gloom, and the false alarms about the global economy? In public discourse, the economy always teeters at the cliff’s edge. Supposedly, we’re just inches away from falling to our economic death. And surprisingly often, we’re told the fall’s already begun, such as in 2020 when the pandemic hit.

We were told there was going to be a deep depression, the headlines said worse than 2008, the global financial crisis, and as bad as the 1930s Great Depression. But the opposite was true – a swift and strong recovery. In 2021, when the strong recovery pushed up demand and prices, the doomsayers said there would be “forever inflation.” The headlines said a return to the ugly 1970s. But that didn’t pan out either. After a dramatic squeeze higher, inflation fell.

False Alarms

And then in 2022, when the Federal Reserve and other central banks raised interest rates, the fear-mongers came out and said there was going to be a historic cascade of emerging market defaults. But that didn’t happen. In fact, the currencies of emerging markets performed better against the dollar than those of rich economies.

And then in 2023, public discourse really wanted to believe in that recession. The headlines anchored on one word: “inevitable.” But there was no recession. In fact, unemployment on both sides of the Atlantic was at or near record lows this century.

The Problem of Doomsaying

We have to ask ourselves: Why the doom? Why the gloom? Why all the false alarms? So I have a few ideas. Perhaps it’s economists like myself. We’re not good at forecasting, clinging to silly but sophisticated models that fail to predict. Or perhaps it’s the press that leans into doomsaying.

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