by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Facebook placed a ‘fact-checking’ label on a post written by a top economist stating that the United States is now in a recession – a move he termed ‘Orwellian’.
Two consecutive quarters of negative growth is the standard definition of a recession, and Phillip Magness, the research and education director at the American Institute for Economic Research, posted on Facebook a commentary about the country now being in a recession.
The post – which is no longer visible – was marked by Facebook’s fact checkers as being misleading.
‘We live in an Orwellian hell-scape,’ he tweeted.’
Facebook is now ‘fact checking’ anyone who questions the White House’s word-games about the definition of a recession.’
Magness then tweeted, as the row continued: ‘Recession. n. 1. 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth when the media dislikes the president. 2. A vague, holistic, ill-defined condition that you aren’t allowed to talk about until the NBER makes a determination a year from now, provided the media likes the president.’
The long-rumbling dispute was given fresh impetus by a White House fact sheet, issued on July 21, in which they said the determination of whether there was a recession or not was ‘holistic’.
‘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,’ the White House said.
‘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.’