‘Secular stagnation’ is a phrase coined in 1938
Sir, Although he may be the most prominent proponent of the notion that we may now be suffering from it, it is not true that the distinguished economist Lawrence Summers “coined” the phrase “secular stagnation”, as claimed by Gillian Tett in “A blind spot masks the crisis danger signs” (March 17). The phrase was coined in 1938 by the Keynesian economist Alvin Hansen, who feared that secular stagnation, rather than recovery, would follow the Great Depression, and who believed that permanent stimulus may be needed to respond to this.
Professor Summers, in his discussions of this topic, readily acknowledges that the phrase dates back to Hansen. Anticipation of the concept of secular stagnation (for example some theories of underconsumption) may be found in the writings of earlier economists, including mercantilists, Malthus and Marx. Dr Donald Markwell Brisbane, QLD, Australia