Wikipedia has banned some users from making edits on its “recession” page as people are feuding over the term’s proper definition.
As of this month, only Wikipedia users who are registered with the site or have not recently created a new account can make edits on the topic of recession. It’s now what Wikipedia calls “semi-protected,” with all edits by other users held for human review, the page’s editors said.
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“Semi-protected articles can only be edited by logged-in users whose accounts are at least 4 days old and have made at least 10 edits,” Wikimedia, the foundation behind Wikipedia, reportedly told Bloomberg in a statement. “Volunteer editors use these and other tools on a regular basis to help ensure that Wikipedia content is neutral and well-sourced.”
Wikipedia pages are run by groups of volunteer editors. Those editors, in the case of the recession page, created a separate page where people can debate the definition of the word recession itself in an effort to “avoid making clowns of ourselves” amid the “sheer nonsense and vitriol that has transpired” on the topic.
The debate — with partisan politics now front and center — surrounds what exactly constitutes a recession. A complication: that each one is different. While recessions oftentimes involve at least two consecutive quarters of declining GDP, that’s not always the case.
Eight economists who are members of a private group called the National Bureau of Economic Research, or NBER, are the ones who make the official call as to whether the U.S. has entered a recession, and when. So far they have remained on the sideline.
The NBER takes into account several factors when labeling a recession, and just GDP is just one. Among the additional factors are unemployment, income growth and consumer spending.
The Biden White House, for its part, has pushed back on claims that the U.S. is in the midst of a recession. Republicans, in contrast, have frequently tagged the economy as recessionary in their midterms-focused talking points.
According to a July poll from Morning Consult, nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) believe the U.S. is in a recession right now. Republicans are more likely to think a recession is upon us, at 78%, compared with just 30% of Democrats.
Interestingly, barely half, or 51%, of those polled in March 2020 thought the U.S. was in a recession when the country was actually in one, according to NBER.
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The latest data show zero inflation in the U.S. economy from June to July and an annual rate of inflation retreating to 8.5% from a 41-year high of 9.1% in June. The “core” inflation rate, a figure that excludes often-volatile factors like food and energy, rose 0.3% in July, on the heels of a 0.7% surge in June.
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