The Biden administration has launched a full-press propaganda campaign to convince you that the economy isn’t that bad. According to the White House spin team, you don’t have to worry about that recession anymore. They fixed it.
And how did they fix it?
They changed the definition of a recession.
This masterful propaganda and gaslighting campaign demonstrates how the feds manage to prop up support for themselves despite objectively wrecking almost everything they touch.
A recession has long been defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. The Oxford dictionary offers the following definition.
The GDP in the first quarter of 2022 came in at -1.6 percent. At the time, the mainstream generally blew it off, asserting that it was just an outlier. The first read for Q2 GDP was -0.9%
That means the U.S. economy is in a recession now and has been all year.
For the last few months, government officials, central bankers, and media pundits have assured us that the economy remains strong. That narrative will become difficult to maintain if the Q2 GDP projection proves correct. It will force recession deniers to throw in the towel and accept reality.
But apparently, the Biden administration has no plans to accept reality. Instead, it wants to alter reality.
The White House propaganda team is working overtime to change the definition of a recession. If it can convince everybody that two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth isn’t the definition of a recession, it has plausible deniability that the economy is currently in a recession.
“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. Instead, both official determinations of recessions and economists’ assessment of economic activity are based on a holistic look at the data—including the labor market, consumer and business spending, industrial production, and incomes. Based on these data, it is unlikely that the decline in GDP in the first quarter of this year—even if followed by another GDP decline in the second quarter—indicates a recession.” [Emphasis added]
There you have it. Problem solved! No recession.
The White House also trotted out Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to reiterate this point. On NBC’s Meet the Press, she argued that the economy remains generally healthy and that inflation fears are overblown. Chuck Todd directly challenged Grandma Yellen.
If the technical definition is two quarters of contraction, you’re saying that’s not a recession?”
Yellen adroitly parroted the White House talking points.
That’s not the technical definition. There is an organization called the National Bureau of Economic Research that looks at a broad range of data in deciding whether or not there is a recession. And most of the data that they look at right now continues to be strong. I would be amazed if they would declare this period to be a recession, even if it happens to have two quarters of negative growth. We have a very strong labor market. when you are creating almost 400,000 jobs a month, that is not a recession.”
In fact, there is no “technical definition” of inflation. A recession is when the people at the National Bureau of Economic Research say there is one. In practice, they are usually quite late to the party. They didn’t announce the 2008 recession until December of that year.
That said, two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction is the common definition. The last 10 times it has happened, they have called it a recession. So, I have zero qualms calling this a recession – especially considering the other data.
Yellen also told us that we really shouldn’t worry about a little economic slowdown. It’s good for us!
According to the White House, “Secretary Yellen also went further in-depth, explaining that some economic slow-down is healthy right now with such a strong labor market, as the Federal Reserve addresses inflation and we transition to steady and sustainable growth, and discussed the actions the Biden Administration has been taking to lower prices for the American people.” [Emphasis added]
Don’t you feel better now?
As I talked about on my SchiffGold Friday Gold Wrap Podcast last week, words matter. The people who control the language can control the narrative. And the people who control the narrative can shape people’s perception of reality.
If we use the original definition of inflation — an “expansion of the supply of money” — instead of the new definition – rising prices – the culprit becomes clear. Who expands the supply of money? It’s the Fed and the government. So, if you accurately define inflation, you know exactly who’s to blame. But if the government can fool people into believing that an effect of inflation is inflation, they can blame it on whoever, or whatever is raising the prices – Putin, pandemics and apparently millennials.
Now they’re trying the same trick with recessions.
The media will almost certainly gobble this up. But I’m not convinced the average American will be quite as easy to convince. We all know the economy is a wreck. We’re living it.
But that’s the nature of gaslighting. The whole point is to make you question your own sanity and sense of reality.
It’s creepy and Orwellian But that’s what government does.