FREAK Shots: Who Wins for Best Recession Cover?

Since the recession was made official, and even before, magazine covers brought out a host of recession-related imagery: downward-slanting arrows, roller coasters, and even (groan) the passé bear or bull.

Back in October, Vanessa Voltolina, writing for Folio magazine’s blog, asked BusinessWeek‘s art director Andrew Horton what makes a good or bad recession cover.

“There are a slew of recession clichés to choose from,” said Horton, but the best covers, in his opinion, are “simple and direct.”


He gave The Economist‘s “What Next?” cover (above left) low marks for being “confusing and a bit too muddy.”

But he liked Time‘s “The New Hard Times” cover (above right), because “I actually got sad looking at it — that’s how you know it’s good.”

What are your favorite recession cover picks for 2009? (See a few examples below.) And what clichés are you especially sick of by now?


May I suggest one of my own recessionary images:


Subtle, yet pointed. Though maybe the nearby Tilt-A-Whirl would have been more appropriate.

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.



View All Comments »
  1. anonymous says:

    I like The Economists’ first one the best, because it presents the anxiety of the situation, but also recognizes that we can determine our own destiny by the choices we make. The TIME cover is just too depressing and fatalistic for me. Perhaps it is even a self-fulfilling prophecy. BusinessWeek and the second Economist are too blame-gamey, and the New Yorker is just weird.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. Tim H says:

    TIME’s cover fits in with a theory I’ve been kicking around lately. Lots of people have been asking if we’re in for another Great Depression, but I don’t think they’re really expecting, you know, masses of people in bread lines and whatnot. I wonder if beneath the talk, people are subconsciously worried about the world going back to black and white. I wonder if we should really keep an eye on Crayola sales — when people start hoarding crayons you know there’s going to be trouble.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. CF says:

    I’m sick and tired of hearing every sentence started with “In these uncertain times,” or some variation. Especially since it often then tells me that I need to go buy something.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  4. Nuclear Mom says:

    See the Thugz post about the public punishing of “bad apples.” I’d like to see covers showing former Masters of the Universe (high finance/banking) losing houses, cars, being castigated by Congress. A little Schadenfreude is in order right now.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. LJR says:

    “in the difficult days ahead”


    “building the new economy”

    These should all be added to any recession-themed drinking game.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. Ed Kay says:

    re: …maybe the nearby Tilt-A-Whirl would have been more appropriate.

    So you’ve watched the “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920).

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. ktb says:

    Thankfully I think the media written news media finally got the main street/wall street thing out of its system in September and October. I still hear it referenced in pundit speech/politcal speeches/tv media every now and again, though, and it makes me want to punch someone.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  8. Brad Swain says:

    And what clichés are you especially sick of by now?

    Articles, news headlines, and commercials that start with…

    “With the economy in free fall…”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0