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Wikipedia has frozen edits from his page for “recession”, halting a frenzy of entry changes after the Biden administration insisted the US economy had not entered an economic downturn.
The website’s definition of recession has been changed dozens of times over the course of 24 hours, in an apparent reaction to the White House’s resistance to labeling the current economy a recession.
New and unregistered users are no longer allowed to edit the page, which is currently “semi-protected” until August 3. according to Wikipedia.
Top Biden administration officials dismiss talk of recession
On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that the economy decreased at an annual rate of 0.9% in the April-June quarter, marking the second straight quarter of negative GDP, or gross domestic product. A consecutive fall in GDP is seen by many as an unofficial barometer of a recession.
Days before the release of the latest numbers assessing economic health, President Biden had insisted that low unemployment, record job growth and foreign business investment signaled a strong economy.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also avoided clinging to the R-word during a recent appearance on NBC. Meet the press. Although two consecutive quarters of negative growth usually defines a recession, she said, “when you’re creating close to 400,000 jobs a month, that’s not a recession.”
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research the traditional definition of a recession is “a significant decline in economic activity that spreads throughout the economy and lasts for more than a few months,” a fact noted in a July 21 memo from the White House citing the NBER as “the official recession marker.”
A flurry of Wikipedia edits reflected administration assurances
The GDP report was expected to show a negative figure. In the days before the data was released, revisions to Wikipedia’s definition reflected an alignment with the Biden administration’s stance against a recession.
A user named “Soibangla”, many of whose recent page edits have been rejected and rejected by other users, made a significant change to the introductory paragraphs on Tuesday, adding the line: “There is no global consensus on the definition of a recession.”
It previously read: “While national definitions vary, two consecutive quarters of decline in [real gross domestic product] is commonly used as a working definition of a recession.”
This language was more like its current iteration, a version currently locked to Wikipedia: “Although the definition of a recession varies between countries and scholars, two consecutive quarters of decline in real gross domestic product (real GDP) of one countries are commonly used as a working definition of a recession.”
Now, a disclaimer at the top of the page warns viewers that the “recession” page may be subject to rapid updates, citing “increased political debate in the United States.”
“An outdated version of this article has been widely circulated,” the entry reads. “Please check if the claims or screenshots you have seen are consistent with what is currently here.”
As with all Wikipedia pages, previous versions of the “recession” entry appear in the revision history.