Inigo Montoya was right and C. Fred Bergsten was wrong about global recession

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Here’s a little something I wrote last January on the way home from the World Economic Forum in Davos:

After hearing various gloomy pronouncements from members of TIME’s Board of Economists, audience member C. Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute for International Economics grabbed a mike, stood up and declared that growth in emerging markets is so strong that “a global recession is inconceivable.” Now, highly unlikely would have been fine. Or even hard to imagine. But inconceivable? As Mandy Patinkin’s Inigo Montoya tells Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini in The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Sure enough, we now seem to be nearing a consensus that the world is now headed for, if not already in, a recession. Morgan Stanley has a report out today projecting -0.9% growth in the developed world next year, and 1.7% for the world as a whole. And yeah, 1.7% global growth counts as a recession. Anything under about 2.5% does.

Update: So I turn on the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer tonight (long story), and there’s C. Fred Bergsten, explaining that big-time fiscal stimulus is needed in China to combat a global recession. A recession of which he is apparently now capable of conceiving.

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