Even top economists are struggling to explain perhaps “the weirdest economy” Americans have ever lived through, CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter said on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
Paul Krugman, a Nobel Laureate and economist and a longtime columnist for the New York Times, said the economy is not in recession, but added that the distinction doesn’t even matter.
“Jobs are abundant, although maybe the job market is weakening. Inflation is high, though maybe inflation is coming down,” Krugman said. “What does it matter whether you use the R word or not?”
But in today’s divisive environment, the debate over whether or not to use the word recession by some members of the media has become “especially vitriolic,” Krugman said.
“I’ve never seen anything as bad as the determination of a lot of people to say it’s a recession,” Krugman said. “It’s above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”
Negative news stories often get the most attention, Krugman added, but when it comes to the economy, a plurality of voters appear to not be aware of its underlying strength.
“I think that what’s happening now is that there’s been a kind of a negativity bias in coverage,” Krugman said, pointing to a “media failing” when it comes to accurately covering the realities of what most Americans are experiencing in this economy.
“If you ask people how’s your financial situation, it’s pretty favorable,” Krugman said. “You ask them how’s the economy, they say, ‘Oh, it’s terrible.’”
And partisanship is a large driver of that divide.
“They want their Biden recession,” Krugman said. “They’re going to have it, nevermind the fact that … there’s not a recession in any technical sense.”
Krugman agreed that it is a complicated economic picture, and that a lot of the numbers aren’t consistent with each other, but that too is not surprising.
“We’re recovering from a pandemic,” Krugman said. “You’d expect a lot of things to look kind of weird right now.”