The media call this the Great Recession, like calling the Titanic disaster a boating accident. More appropriately, it should be called, The Second Great Depression. In a recession, the economy contracts for two or more fiscal quarters and unemployment rises. The effects of an economic Depression are similar, only more extreme and prolonged. A recession is like a head cold or the flu; but an economic Depression is a cancer.
In a Depression, there is a disruption of credit or some other banking crisis. Due to high unemployment, there is also shortage of purchasing power, which only makes the situation worse. A recession is a cough; a Depression is choking to death on jaw breaker, a systemic failure of the economy. Hand wringing, prayer shawls or duct tape won't do the trick, something must be done, our economy has fallen and can't get up.
If you're in your fifties, you probably remember learning about the Great Depression from school or hearing, first-hand accounts about it, from relatives. If you were born in 1990, you probably have no recollection of America at peace. You have no recollection of the Cold War or when good jobs were plentiful. No memory of big Christmases or that Uncle, who bought a new Buick every two years.
"It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." ~ John Steinbeck