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A furious editing war has erupted on the Wikipedia page for ‘recession’ after Biden administration officials downplayed figures showing the US had entered an unofficial recession after two quarters of negative economic growth .
The page is currently locked down, so only “established and registered users” can make changes to anyone else who needs to suggest changes for approval.
On Thursday, Commerce Department figures revealed that US gross domestic product (GDP) fell by an annualized rate of 0.9% during the second quarter of 2022. This follows negative growth in the first quarter with a annualized rate of 1.6%.
Two consecutive quarters of decline in GDP, which measures all goods and services produced by a country, is traditionally defined as a recession. However, key figures in the Biden administration avoided using the word “recession” before and after the latest numbers were released.
In a statement released after the Commerce Department’s announcement, President Joe Biden said America remains “on track” and “will experience this transition stronger and safer.”
Defending his economic record, Biden said, “After last year’s historic economic growth and recovering all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis, it’s no surprise the economy is slowing as the Reserve federal government is taking action to reduce inflation. But even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right track and will come through this transition stronger and safer.”
The statement infuriated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Addressing Biden from the House, he commented, “You’d rather redefine a recession than restore a healthy economy.”
Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen denied that the United States was on the verge of entering a recession during an appearance on NBC. Meet the press.
“It’s not an economy in recession,” she said. “But we are in a transition period in which growth is slowing down and that is necessary and appropriate and we need to grow at a steady and sustainable pace.”
President Biden said Monday that “we’re not going to be in a recession, in my opinion,” adding “my hope is that we move from this rapid growth to steady growth.”
The denials were reflected in the edit war on Wikipedia’s recession page, with a user called Soibangla removing references to the standard definition of a recession. Instead, they added a line that read, “There is no global consensus on the definition of a recession.”
After the definition was edited several times by concurrent users, the page was protected, limiting who can edit it.
Whether the United States is in a technical recession will be determined in the coming months by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which will await more data before making its decision.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates an additional 0.75% in an effort to control runaway inflation.
However, it will also make borrowing more expensive for businesses and individuals, which could further impact economic growth.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement, “This is Joe Biden’s recession. Biden can lie and deflect blame all he wants, but that won’t lessen the pain that Americans feel every time they fill up their gas tanks, go shopping, check their retirement savings or balance their budget.
“Biden and the Democrats are responsible for shrinking our economy, and they’re only trying to make it worse.”
Economist Peter Schiff recently said Newsweek that the United States has probably been in a recession for some time, although this is not reflected in official figures.
He warned: “It’s going to be a brutal recession. I think it will be more of a depression by the time this is over.”
News that the United States has entered an unofficial recession could be damaging to Biden ahead of November’s midterm elections and ultimately the 2024 presidential election. No Democratic president has won re-election after a recession has erupted under his leadership since FDR.