Not a recession, more like a "bad hangover"

Marketplace Staff Aug 19, 2011

Not a recession, more like a "bad hangover"

Marketplace Staff Aug 19, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Economic reports are pointing to another possible recession — whether it be the weekly jobs numbers, higher food prices, and even some sour regional data on manufacturing that are taking the markets down.

Jill Schlesinger is editor-at-large at CBS/MoneyWatch. She’s with us live from New York with more on all that stuff. Good morning.

Jill Schlesinger: Good morning.

Chiotakis: So we’ve heard a bunch of times, Jill, that we’re not in an official recession. Why not? I mean, it sure feels like we’re headed there.

Schlesinger: Yeah. We haven’t qualified based on the two ways that recession is defined — the rule of thumb method, which is two consecutive quarters of contraction, or the official way. That’s the National Bureau of Economic Research, they haven’t said that we’ve seen a significant decline in activity.

Chiotakis: So they have to say it?

Schlesinger: So they say.

Chiotakis: Yeah, so they say they have to say it. Does it matter then, Jill, that there’s been no official declaration?

Schlesinger: Well, let’s look at the facts. The U.S. economy grew by less than one percent in the first half of the year. There are nearly 25 million Americans who are either out of work or working part time. Wages are stagnating for those with jobs, and housing is still in the tank. So, whether or not we call that a recession, there’s no denying that the economy continues to struggle. Of course, oddly enough, corporations are doing well and that’s why the stock market is still up nearly 70 percent from the 2009 lows.

Chiotakis: If it’s not a recession, Jill, then what the heck is it? What should we call it?

Schlesinger: You know, I always think the U.S. economy went on a credit binge in the last decade, so I’d like to call this the “bad hangover phase” or a really bad recovery.

Chiotakis: Really bad recovery, out of the mouth of Jill Schlesinger, joining us from CBS/MoneyWatch — Jill, thanks.

Schlesinger: Great to be with you.

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