Is the U.S. economy in a recession? The Democrats and the media have been saying so for a while, but the funny thing is, “recession” is a word and it has a meaning, and the fact that the economy is throwing off a lot of scary indicators and people in particular businesses or jurisdictions are losing jobs may mean the economy has problems, but it doesn’t mean we’re in a recession – at least not yet – any more than clouds in the sky mean that it’s raining. A recession requires multiple quarters in which the GDP declines – that’s what it means, no more and no less. It’s true that you have to already be in a recession before the data comes in to prove it…so how many consecutive quarters of negative growth in the economy are we working on right now?
Well, the data is in this morning, and in the most recently concluded quarter – the 2d quarter of this year – the economy grew, at a 1.9% annualized rate, the best since the 3d quarter of 2007.Great news? No. 1.9% isn’t the kind of robust growth we’d been used to since 2003, and the underlying structural worries are still there, and some reports are crediting short-term stimulus checks and weak-dollar-driven drops in imports, neither of which is cause for long-term celebration. But as usual, the bad news has been overstated by efforts to paint this as 1933 or 1979 all over again. If we elect a president who wants to jack up taxes, close off trade and hold the line against domestic energy production, though, it might be.