Jared Bernstein, a member of President Joe Biden's Council of Economic Advisers, said he isn't discounting a recession in the near future but that the United States is uniquely equipped to handle such an economic downturn.
GDP shrank by 1.4% in the first quarter of 2022 after posting significant gains to round out 2021. Generally, the economy must post consecutive quarters of negative growth, coupled with high unemployment and other signs of declining commerce, before it is considered to be in recession.
"I can tell the American people that we are in a much better position when it comes to that recession question than pretty much any other advanced economy I've seen," Bernstein said in an interview on CNN Thursday morning. "You can never rule anything out, so that's not really a relevant question."
He proceeded to claim that the "key point here is less about forecasting and probability. That's a very uncertain game right now. It's what are we actually doing, concretely, to meet the challenges we know that American households face."
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Bernstein reiterated Biden's vow to fight inflation at home and help the global economy to rebound in the process.
"The thing you have to ask yourself, with all of these polling results and all these inflationary pressures of which we are acutely aware, is: 'Is this country, is this economy, in a position of strength to face what's coming at us, especially compared to other economies that face the same pressures?'" he said. "I think the answer, if you look at our job numbers, if you look at our GDP growth, if you look at household incomes and how their savings are doing, you would conclude that we are approaching this moment from a position of strength."
Highlights from our interview with White House econ adviser Jared Bernstein:— Brianna Keilar (@brikeilarcnn) May 5, 2022
- can't rule out recession
- red states will be hit harder by overturning Roe
- overturning Roe will damage the economy
- his answer on if Manchin was right about impact of spending on inflation pic.twitter.com/GAuUCMDDSz
Bernstein's response marks a noticeable break from past comments made by White House press secretary Jen Psaki on the topic.
Psaki has faced a number of questions about a pending recession in recent briefings, especially after economists began forecasting negative GDP growth for the first quarter, but has she repeatedly worked around answering the question directly.
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"Well, again, as I've said before on the recession question: Obviously, we look closely at economic data," she said in response to an April 27 question on the topic. "We continue to believe that there are — there are strong data in the economy, whether it's record job growth, whether it is the current unemployment rate. And that is a result of the actions of the president."