New Normal Newspeak #5: “Recession”

Don’t worry, the economy is fine, we’re definitely not in a recession…according to the new definition.

Our new series of micro-articles deals with the newly everyday occurrence of the modern media simply changing what a word means. Today’s word is “recession”.

The United States is not in a recession. The government want to be very clear about that.

Yes, it’s true that a “recession” is generally defined as…

a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.

And yes, it’s true that the US has likely seen a “fall in GDP in two successive quarters”…but that doesn’t mean there’s a recession.

OK, it might technically be a recession but, apparently, there’s a difference between a “technical recession” and a “real recession”. The Whitehouse posted a blog about it a few days ago (as this reddit user pointed out):

What is a recession? While some maintain that two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP constitute a recession, that is neither the official definition nor the way economists evaluate the state of the business cycle.

There you have it – the US isn’t in a recession (not a real one, anyway), by this different definition of “recession”.

This does not constitute the Whitehouse changing the definition. They want to be very clear about that, too. And, as usual, the official “fact-checkers” have their back.

Newsweek headlines: Fact Check: Did The White House ‘Change Definition of Recession’?, which does a lot of prevarication and double-talking around the subject.

CNBC is both more forthright and more patronising, defending the Whitehouse position under the headline “Here’s how to know if we’re in a recession, and it’s not what you think”

Business Insider are even less subtle about it: “No, the White House isn’t changing the definition of a recession”

Read More: New Normal Newspeak #5: “Recession”

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