We are in a recession by the traditional definition, which is also the official definition in a number of countries — two quarters of negative growth.
Brian Deese, the White House economics advisor, in 2008, used that definition to proclaim a Bush recession. Now he says that definition does not apply.
Ben White, who writes for Politico, used the same definition two years ago.
Now, he’s fallen in line with the White House.
The original definition used to also be good for John Harwood of CNN.
Now, the press claims we are not in a recession.
To be fair to the White House, many economic factors have suggested we are not really in a recession. Additionally, economic growth data is often revised — sometimes upward and sometimes downward.
But there are three things we cannot avoid here.
First, all the talking heads long used “two-quarters of negative growth” to define a recession until just this week the Biden Administration began pushing them hard to change it. They were all compliant.
Second, the public certainly feels a recession, even if there is not technically a recession. Car repossessions are skyrocketing. Mortgage demand is plummeting. Hiring is slowing as businesses still struggle. People are cutting back on spending. Even upper income Americans are slowing their spending. It feels like a recession. If it is not really a recession now, it is going to be one and it will hit as Biden is running for re-election.
Third, you know damn well if a Republican were President, the entirety of the press corps would be proclaiming that we are in a recession and would ignore the goal post shifting of the White House.
But for Joe Biden, they’ll do what he wants. It is intellectually dishonest and further erodes the credibility of the press. If they want to go with the revised definition, that’s fine. But to do it the week the White House begs them just separates the press from the propagandists, and we’re seeing more propagandists than reporters.