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The Washington Post, CNN, the New York Times and others adopted the White House’s definition of a recession on Thursday after the GDP numbers were shown. Negative growth for consecutive quarters As the US economy enters recession.

Several media headlines framed the news as “raising recession fears” even as the economy entered a technical recession after Thursday’s gross domestic product showed a contraction of 0.9 percent on an annual basis in the April-June period.

“US economy shrinks again in second quarter, revives recession fears,” read Washington Post headlines. The report acknowledged that the numbers “often signaled a recession.”

Similarly, an Associated Press report on the news said the second-quarter numbers “are fueling fears that the country is edging closer to a recession.”

“Consecutive quarters of GDP declines are an informal, though not definitive, indicator of a recession,” the AP reports.

A Washington Post headline said negative second-quarter GDP numbers are "reviving" recession fears.

A Washington Post headline said negative second-quarter GDP numbers are “reviving” recession fears.

The Fed has raised interest rates by 75 basis points to combat inflation.

CNN’s front-page headline described the news as crossing the “threshold of a symbolic recession” and its report also used it to “raise fears of a recession”. The report describes the technical definition of recession as an “unofficial” definition.

“That decline marks a major symbolic threshold for the most commonly used — albeit informal — definition of a recession in two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.”

A Business Insider story Thursday, headlined, “Today’s GDP numbers don’t tell us if we’re in a recession — and we won’t know for sure until we’re already in the middle of a crisis,” the GDP figures said. It did not provide “clarity” about the state of the US economy.

“The US economy shrank 0.9% in the second quarter, after a 1.6% decline in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of contraction is used as shorthand for a recession, but the situation is more complicated,” Insider reported.

Several White House officials appeared on television last week to push past the negative GDP report, trying to redefine the common definition of a recession. Media outlets such as the Associated Press and CNN also picked up the talk as coming from White House officials.

White House economic adviser Brian Dees was asked about the Biden administration's plan for inflation during a CNBC interview. "Squawk box" on tuesday.  Reuters/Kevin Lamarck

During CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday, White House economic adviser Brian Dees was asked about the Biden administration’s plan for inflation. Reuters/Kevin Lamarck
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said Monday on CNN that the GDP report would be “self-retarded.”

“Certainly by technical definition, this is not a recession,” Dees said. “The technical definition considers a much broader spectrum of data points.”

Biden officials have rejected the traditional recession definition as media questions put them on the defensive

The New York Times reported negative GDP growth for the second quarter in a row, saying it “raises fears” of a recession in its headline. However, the piece notes that it may signal that it “has already begun”.

“A key measure of economic output fell for the second consecutive quarter, raising fears that the United States is entering a recession — or perhaps starting one,” the report said.

Politico’s writing of the news framed it as a “new headwind” for President Biden, saying that it is “a compelling opportunity for Republicans to declare that the economy is now in a recession under President Joe Biden.”

The outlet reported that the US economy is meeting just one of several criteria for a recession.

A New York Times headline says GDP numbers are "raising recession fears."

A New York Times headline says GDP numbers are “raising recession fears.”
(Screenshot/New YorkTimes)

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Biden said The GDP report was not a “surprise”. Thursday, after saying earlier in the week that there would be no recession.

“Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth — and regaining all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis — it’s not surprising that the economy has slowed as the Federal Reserve works to lower inflation,” Biden said in a statement. “But even in the face of historic global challenges, we are on the right track and will come out of this transition stronger and more secure.”