Here’s how to know if we’re in a recession, and it’s not what you think

Everyone who cares knows that recessions happen when there are two consecutive quarters of negative growth — everyone, that is, except for the people who actually decide when the economy is in recession.

The definition of recession at the National Bureau of Economic Research is more ambiguous for those people.

Officially, the NBER defines recession“An extensive decline in economic activity, which occurs across all sectors of the economy and lasts for more than six months.” According to the Bureau’s economists gross domestic product is not the best measure of economic activity.

As inflation impacted consumer prices in New York City on June 10, 2022, people shop in supermarkets.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

This is important because the data due Thursday may indicate that the U.S. witnessed its second straight negative-growth periodThe second quarter. This may be the last recession in 1948, when there have been two consecutive quarters of negative results.

Why? It’s complicated.

Dean Baker, co-founder and chief economist of the Center for Economic and Policy Research stated that while they were creating more than 400,000 jobs per month in a downturn, “the NBER would laugh at us.” I can’t imagine them thinking for one second that we are in recession.

Indeed, nonfarm payrolls grew an average 457,000 a monthThere were no signs of an economic slowdown in the first six months. There are also 11.3 million open jobs and only 5.9 million workers available to fill them. This indicates that hiring should not slow down.

Recession: The Case for

There have also been some downsides.

Consumer spending on a dollar level has been solidHowever, it is much lower when you adjust for inflation at 40 years highs. It is the U.S. trade deficitThe March record low of 83.0 mm was another blow to GDP. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has measured that inventories have slowed, and this also affects GDP growth.

However, economists will have to explain these details to the public. It’ll be confusing for those who were affected by increased inflation or a slowdown in certain aspects of their economy if the second-quarter GDP numbers come in negative.

There are many things that make it possible. FeelAs a recession sky-high pricesProduct shortages are widespread warnings from companies like WalmartJust to name three, changing consumer behaviours are leading to a decrease in profits.

In the first quarter, GDP contracted 1.6%. Atlanta Federal Reserve’s real-time trackerThis is the second consecutive decline in Q2.

It is still semantics. The economic trajectory is evidently lower regardless of how you define it. [a recession]Peter Boockvar (chief investment officer, Bleakley Advisory Group), said that it was up to you whether or not. “The third quarter of the Bleakley Advisory Group will be weaker than the first. This means that you might see three quarters with contraction in GDP. Is that technically a sign we are in recession?

These are the criteria

The NBER, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is, for its part, a somewhat shadowy organization. They meet privately and don’t make recession calls until months later than they started. Its. most recent callThe Covid-19 downturn that it claimed began in February 2020, and ended two years later was the source of this inspiration.

However, both the government and business news outlets still take NBER’s rulings into consideration when they determine expansions and contractions.

It is believed that the six key factors of this organization include real personal income minus transfers payments, nonfarm payrolls and employment. This data was gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CNBC did not reach out to the NBER for comment.

In a client note, Tim Quinlan, senior economist with Wells Fargo stated that “if this definition feels complicated, it’s because its involved.” A recession can be difficult to define. It goes far beyond its duration and affects the economic health.

Quinlan stated that the data points could be divided into four larger groups, namely production, income and employment, as well as spending.

He said, “The economy was never in recession when at most three NBER indicators rose over the month”. While we still don’t have actual sales in May, our nonfarm employment and real personal income, less transfers, all increased over the month. It suggests the economy has not entered recession.

The next question is what will happen if the NBER doesn’t call a recession any time soon.

Boockvar believes that a recession is inevitable, and the NBER declaration is just a matter timing. He said, “I would not be surprised if they recession start date is a bit later.”

Baker stated that while he is optimistic about the first half’s growth, he believes GDP will be in excess of 0.4%. Baker acknowledged after that that there is still the possibility of recession, although he feels that the U.S. can avoid it.

Baker is afraid, as are many others. Federal Reserve interest rate increasesInflation management and economy slowdown may be overdone and result in a decline.

However, he is confident that economic conditions since the beginning of this year do not suggest a recession.

“Were you in recession the first quarter? That just makes zero sense,” Baker said. “The NBER folks, I respect and admire them as serious economists. They won’t say it’s recession.

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