Just listened to >>this message<< by one of my favorite preachers & writers, John Piper. I love his teaching, even when it zings me. Like this message did. (I listen to him every week via podcast) I've thought about what God might be up to in causing/allowing (your choice of words!) this recession. But as he so often does, Piper says it such that I conclude by going, "yeah, that's way better than anything I was thinking."
Check these purposes out. And then click the link above and go either listen to or read the message (both are available for free there). I have nothing to add, except to again say "wow!" and "ouch!".
(excerpt from his message summarizing his view of some of God's purposes in the recession starts below)
(Some of) God’s Purposes in This Recession
Now what are some of God’s purposes in this recession? I will mention five:
He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.
Give yourself a blessing and a challenge and go read/listen to the whole thing. He unpacks each of these points. It's quite remarkable.