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”
The point many of them are clinging to is that we can’t be in a recession because of all the “new jobs”. A startling piece of intellectual dishonesty, since the “new jobs” are not new at all, they’re all the old jobs everyone lost due to lockdown.
At the end of the day price of energy is skyrocketing, inflation is hitting record highs all over the world, there’s a food crisis and a fuel crisis and a housing crisis and a general cost of living crisis.
…who cares what we call that? Does changing the name change the thing? A recession by any other name is still as deep.
The people in charge believe that as long as they keep changing the names of things it doesn’t matter that everyone is starving. They are wrong.
If you spot other examples of New Normal Newspeak, post them in the comments below. You can read the entire archive here.
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