Wikipedia suspended the edit feature on its “Recession” page after users rushed to edit it to endorse President Biden’s assertion that the United States is not experiencing a downturn.
The page was changed at least 47 times over a roughly 24-hour period, with an administrator blocking unregistered users until August. in an effort to curb what the encyclopedia’s website calls “vandalism” and “malicious” alterations.
The freeze on changes comes as many in the Biden administration have tried to argue that the country is not in a recession by casting doubt on the definition of the word, which is commonly believed to be two consecutive quarters of growth. negative economy.
A member made repeated edits to the Wikipedia page to insist that there was “no global consensus” on the definition of recession, in what appears to be a bizarre attempt to push the messages of the White House.
The Commerce Department confirmed in a report on Thursday that the United States meets that exact definition – announcing that gross domestic product fell 0.9% in the second quarter, following a 1.6% decline in the first quarter.
The edit history of Wikipedia’s Recession page. The page was locked after being edited 47 times in 24 hours this week
The freeze on changes comes as many in the Biden administration have tried to argue that the country is not in a recession by casting doubt on the definition of the word
The Wikipedia page history showed a slew of edits, with an editor named Soibangla combing through the page and removing any reference to the commonly accepted definition of a recession.
Soibangla then replaced those definitions with lines that more closely match the Biden administration’s view, with one line reading “There is no global consensus on the definition of a recession.”
Some editors then tried to reprimand Soibangla’s changes, only to have another round of recessions doubting that the editors would change the article to match their ambiguous definitions.
A Wikipedia administrator has frozen the edit function due to “persistently adding unsourced or missourced content”, the website says, while at the top of the page a banner warns readers that the article may have been “affected by a current event” and not to be taken at face value at this time.
US gross domestic product fell 0.9% in the second quarter, after falling 1.6% in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction is the classic definition of a recession
The consumer price index hit a four-decade high of 9.1% in June – a staggering level of inflation for a seemingly shrinking economy
As the recession warning that occurred on Thursday grew louder in previous weeks, the Biden administration took active steps to cast doubt on the definition of a recession and instead began talking about a period of “slow growth”.
In a weekend interview with NBC, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, “This is not an economy in recession.” But we are in a period of transition in which growth is slowing down and it is necessary and appropriate and we must grow at a steady and sustainable rate.
On Monday, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese repeated Yellen’s claims, referring to “this time of uncertainty, a time of more stable and steady growth.”
President Biden himself clung to the phrase, flatly denying that there was a recession.
“We’re not going to be in a recession, in my opinion,” he told reporters on Monday, “I hope we go from this rapid growth to steady growth.”
Biden faced heavy criticism on Thursday when he still failed to mention the word recession in a statement released after the Commerce Department announced the numbers that showed the United States had entered a classic recession.
“It’s no surprise that the economy is slowing as the Federal Reserve acts to bring inflation down,” Biden said instead.
“But even though we face historic global challenges, we are on the right path and we will get through this transition stronger and safer,” he added, quoting strong consumer spending and low unemployment, all signs that the US economy remains robust.
The White House has denied that the United States meets the criteria for a recession, saying a panel of economists must officially declare that the economy is no longer expanding.
Republican critics have accused the administration of flying against reality, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying in a floor speech: ‘You’d rather redefine a recession than restore a healthy economy .”
The new report from the Commerce Department was unexpected news, as most economists had forecast modest GDP growth in the second quarter.
The stock market’s reaction, however, was mixed. The Dow fell 186 points, or 0.58%, in morning trade, a relatively small move for the index that has consistently seen much larger swings in recent volatile trading.
Investors may be hoping the shrinking economy will push the Federal Reserve to halt or reverse its aggressive course of interest rate hikes ahead of the central bank’s next policy meeting in September.
Biden’s full statement on shrinking US economy
“After last year’s historic economic growth – and recovering all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis – it is not surprising that the economy is slowing as the Federal Reserve acts to reduce inflation. But even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right track and we will get through this transition stronger and safer. Our labor market remains historically strong, with an unemployment rate of 3.6% and more than one million jobs created in the second quarter alone.
“Consumer spending continues to grow. Earlier this week, I met with the Korean chairman of SK Group, one of the companies that has invested more than $200 billion in American industry since I took office, fueling a historic recovery in the economy. American industry.
“My economic plan is focused on reducing inflation, without giving up all the economic gains we have made. Congress has a historic chance to do so by passing the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act without delay.
The Fed has raised benchmark interest rates to combat soaring inflation, but higher rates tend to dampen growth by making borrowing more expensive for businesses and consumers.
However, even though the economy turned around in the first half of the year, higher Fed rates have yet to dampen consumer price inflation.
The consumer price index hit a four-decade high of 9.1% in June – a staggering level of inflation for an economy that was apparently shrinking.
Biden said in his statement Thursday that his “economic plan is focused on bringing inflation down, without giving up all the economic gains we’ve made.”
The president called on Congress to pass the Democrats’ new Cut Inflation Act, a scaled-down version of Biden’s Build Back Better package that would raise taxes on businesses and the wealthy to fund $433 billion in spending for climate and health initiatives.
In response, Republican critics furiously slammed the Biden administration, blaming Democrats’ policies for slowing growth and blaming the White House for denying a recession has arrived.
“We cannot afford the policies of the Democrats to fail,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday. “But we certainly pay them.”
“You’d rather redefine a recession than restore a healthy economy,” he added.
“It’s Joe Biden’s recession. Biden can lie and deflect blame all he wants, but that won’t ease the pain Americans feel every time they fill up on gas, shop , check their retirement savings or balance their budget,’ Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a report.
“Biden and the Democrats are responsible for shrinking our economy, and they’re only trying to make it worse,” she added.
Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth is the informal and widely accepted definition of a recession.
But the White House has fought hard against the idea that six months of economic contraction equals a recession, issuing statements and briefings to drive home their message that the economy remains strong.
“While some argue that two consecutive quarters of real GDP decline constitutes a recession, that is neither the official definition nor how economists assess the state of the business cycle,” the White House said in a statement. last week.
The statement added: “The decline in GDP in the first quarter of this year, even if followed by another decline in GDP in the second quarter, is unlikely to indicate a recession.”