What Is A Recession Anyway?

This is not a recession, so says the White House. In fact, the White House is working to change the definition of the very word in advance of GDP numbers, due this week.

Economics 101 would tell us that a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of falling GDP. In a recent blog, the White House says: not so.

Instead the White House would like to only use the word recession based on “a holistic look at the data – including the labor market, consumer and business spending, industrial production, and incomes.” Based on these data, the White House says, “it is unlikely” that all of this “indicates a recession.”

Based on this many data points, how are we ever to agree on the definition of a recession? In the words of Al Gore, this seems to be some pretty “fuzzy math” and conveniently used to tell you: you’re fine. The economy is fine. These are not the droids you’re looking for.

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