For many decades, a recession has been defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. This definition has never really been disputed until now: Joe Biden, who has spent the past year boasting about his historically unmatched economic record, doesn’t want to admit that his economy is actually garbage.
The White House has been bracing for the official announcement of the second straight quarter of negative growth by insisting that the long-accepted definition of a recession is not the true definition of a recession. But, unfortunately, they also refuse to offer their own alternative definition, because an objective standard for defining a recession isn’t politically advantageous at the moment.
It was ridiculous to watch the White House make this claim, but now the media is joining in on the ruse.
Paul Krugman, always a reliable shill for the Biden administration, writes in The New York Times that he fully expects the Bureau of Economic Analysis to declare on Thursday that GDP shrank in the second quarter of 2022, marking the second consecutive quarter of negative GDP growth, and laments that “there will be a lot of breathless commentary to the effect that we’re officially in a recession.”
But, Krugman assures us, that is not the case. “That’s not how recessions are defined; more important, it’s not how they should be defined,” he insists.
Ignore the two-quarter rule. We might have a recession, but we aren't in one now https://t.co/48qpo9uoQL
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) July 27, 2022
You can almost hear the White House cronies whispering in Krugman’s ear what to say.
Sadly, Krugman wasn’t alone.
“By one common definition, the U.S. economy is on the cusp of a recession,” writes the Associated Press. “Yet that definition isn’t the one that counts.”
Of course not. A recession is whatever Joe Biden says it is.
After conceding that the Bureau of Economic Analysis is expected to declare that there was negative GDP growth two quarters in a row and acknowledging that this is the longstanding definition of a recession, the Associated Press jumps right into the White House talking points by saying that “economists say that wouldn’t mean that a recession had started.”
I wonder if these are the same “serious economists” that Biden likes to refer to?
“During those same six months when the economy might have contracted, businesses and other employers added a prodigious 2.7 million jobs — more than were gained in most entire years before the pandemic,” they continue. “Wages are also rising at a healthy pace, with many employers still struggling to attract and retain enough workers.”
Of course, the devil is in the details. These are not all new jobs created as much as they are jobs recovered that were lost during the pandemic, and there’s still a way to go. While the private sector has recovered the jobs lost, the public sector is still lagging behind. Some states (typically red states) are leading the recovery of jobs, while others are still lagging behind. Also, the labor force participation rate stands at 62.2%, which is below the pre-pandemic level of 63.4%.
We’ve long criticized the Biden administration for taking credit for creating jobs that were lost during the pandemic shutdowns and then came back when the economy started opening up. But this is a significant flip-flop for the AP, which called out Joe Biden last year for taking credit for job growth on his watch. “The robust hiring since his inauguration largely reflects the reopening of the U.S. economy after a huge winter wave of coronavirus infections started to peak in January,” the outlet explained in September.
But it gets worse. This media operation to redefine “recession” for the White House comes despite the media widely accepting the two-quarter definition. One example in the clip below argued that one-quarter of negative growth under Trump was a recession.
Then vs. now: What is a "recession?"
"The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command."
We are living in a George Orwell novel. pic.twitter.com/Woa3i9evNn
— Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty) July 26, 2022
Many Americans believe we’re already in a recession, so it seems unlikely that this coordinated effort to redefine it will work.