Like many who end up working in finance, RebelEconomist studied science at university, which in his case culminated in research investigating patterns in climatic records. Part of this work involved analysing the seasonal cycle in the
For the geeky reader, the seasonally adjusted series in Figure 1 was obtained by
What might explain the absence of a recent slowdown in the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to the
Another potential explanation for the absence of a deceleration of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide now might be that variations of natural origin are either obscuring anthropogenic effects, or were the real cause of the dip in
Moreover, a muted inflection in 1973 is also evident in the (less complete) record of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at the South Pole (Figure 3; the unadjusted series is not plotted in this case because the seasonal cycles are so small that they obscure the seasonally adjusted series).
Also, as already mentioned, other smaller decelerations seem to coincide with major downturns such as those of
So, if natural processes and influences cannot readily explain the absence of a current deceleration in the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, could it be the case that the present recession is not as great and not as global as E&O would have us believe? Unfortunately, their attempt to compare this downturn with the Great Depression is restricted to variables for which observations covering both periods are available; namely, industrial or manufacturing production (their VoxEU column is not quite clear about which of these is presented), stock market prices and trade flows. Of these, only industrial production is a direct measure of economic output (and manufacturing production would exclude construction); stock market prices reflect expectations for future output as well as how that future output is valued by markets, and it is net trade that contributes to economic output (which matters more when different stages of production are carried out in different countries). In recent months, however, a wider range of domestic economic activity reports from developing countries in Asia, especially from China, have suggested that economic growth there has remained fairly robust, especially by developed country standards. In China, manufacturing for domestic consumption such as car production continues to expand rapidly, while fiscal stimulus has boosted infrastructure investment and it now seems possible that China will achieve its 8% target for economic growth in 2009. Recent economic statistics suggest that India's economy is presently stronger than expected, and next largest economy among the developing Asian countries, Indonesia, also seems to be performing relatively well.
In conclusion, the absence of a slowdown in the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa at the moment is inconsistent with the view that the present recession is globally severe, and this cannot be readily explained by known natural influences. Perhaps, rather than being a recession of "great" and "global" scale, the key characteristic of the present economic downturn is a shift of activity from the developed to the developing countries, and, aided by fiscal stimulus, into
Commenter Joao Carlos points out that the Brazilian economy (now one of the ten largest economies in the world) has also proved stronger than expected. Indeed, Brazil's "resilience" was specifically mentioned by Moody's credit rating agency yesterday as one of the reasons why Moody's have put Brazil's domestic and foreign currency sovereign credit ratings on review for an upgrade.