In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 8, 2008 / 3 Iyar 5768

Recession, Recession, Where's the Recession?

By Larry Elder

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "It's a recession," said former President Harry Truman, "when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours."

For people facing home foreclosure, job loss or the struggle of paying high gas prices, the definition a recession seems immaterial and insignificant. True.

But during an election year, the media's constant use or expectation of "recession" does matter. Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's likely nominee, already considers the U.S. economy "in a recession."

So are we — at least as economists commonly define the term?

No — not even close.

But a recent typical news wire story, however, goes like this: "(George W.) Bush's news conference appeared to be a pre-emptive measure of sorts, as it came a day before the release of statistics on the nation's gross domestic product for January through March. The common definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of declining GDP and many expect Wednesday's report to provide the first official confirmation of a slide."

Well, case closed.

Yes, economists generally define a recession as two or more consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the nonpartisan organization the government uses to determine economic cycles, defines a recession as a period of sustained negative economic growth — with GDP its most important variable.

Have we had a period of "sustained negative economic growth" since the end of the 2001 recession? No.


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Last week, the government released two important figures: GDP growth (or lack thereof) for the first quarter of this year, and the number of jobs created (or lack thereof) for the month of April. Now, let's examine the reporting the day before and the day of the released figures.

The day before the released GDP report, a headline in USA Today read, "USA TODAY survey: We're in a recession, economists say." The first two sentences read as follows: "The U.S. economy is in recession, or soon to be in one. Two-thirds of the 52 economists polled said the U.S. economy is in recession."

This USA Today we're-in-a-recession story showed a graph with the 52 economists' predictions. They (incorrectly) predicted 0.1 percent economic growth for the first quarter, 0.5 percent negative growth for the second, with positive growth for the next four quarters at 2.3, 2.0, 2.2 and 2.6 percent respectively. But they never bothered to show the growth in the last quarter of 2007, while anemic, was still a positive 0.6 percent. In other words, assuming the traditional definition of recession — back-to-back quarters of negative economic growth — even USA Today's economic experts were not truly predicting a recession .

The next day, the actual number for this year's first quarter came out.

Oops. USA Today's Web site headline for an Associated Press story read: "Weak 0.6 percent economic growth in Q1 is better than forecast." In English, this means that since the recovery began in Bush's first year in office, we have had zero quarters of negative economic growth, let alone consecutive ones.

Now, on to last week's jobs numbers.

The day before the Labor Department released the numbers, The Associated Press warily wrote: "Investors are predicting another gloomy reading on U.S. employment on Friday. The Labor Department's report is expected to show a 75,000 net loss in jobs for April and a rise in unemployment to 5.2 percent from 5.1 percent in March." So, what happened?

Oops. In April, the economy lost 20,000 jobs. Nothing to throw a parade about, but far fewer than the economic "experts" predicted. And of unemployment? Well, the rate fell from 5.1 percent to 5.0 percent. This forced The Associated Press to grudgingly concede that, well, maybe things aren't quite as bad as we thought: "The latest snapshot of the nationwide employment conditions — while clearly still weak — was better than many economists were anticipating. They were bracing for job cuts of 75,000 and for the unemployment rate to climb to 5.2 percent. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in March. That survey showed more people finding employment than those who didn't."

But now, here comes a knuckleball. Since the economic news failed to match the predicted gloominess, The Associated Press moved the goal post. "Under one rough rule," the AP wrote, "if the economy contracts for six straight months it is considered to be in a recession. That didn't happen in the last recession — in 2001 — though."

It didn't?

No, the 2001 recession, according to the NBER, did not show two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth — it had three.

By October of 1992, when President George Herbert Walker Bush ran for re-election against Bill Clinton, the economy was 18 months into a recovery . But as Investor's Business Daily noted, 90 percent of the newspaper stories on the economy were negative. Yet the following month, when Clinton defeated Bush-41, suddenly only 14 percent of economic news stories were negative!

But only a cynic would suggest a liberal media bias. And you know me better than that.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose." (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR)

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