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Is the U.S. Heading into a Recession? - Narrative Intelligence

June 20, 2022Evan Robert

With an unprecedented increase in gas prices and record inflation, many Americans are asking the question: are we headed for a recession? As of June 13th the average gas prices hit $5.01 per gallon, an all time high. Since then, it’s dropped to $4.98. The federal reserve is looking to raise interest rates in hope of slowing down an inflation rate that is undoubtedly rising at an alarming rate. With a downward projection in many key areas of our economy, it is important to know how this trend is being displayed through America’s biggest influences. This EdgeTheory narrative brief can give insight into what the media is saying about a potential recession:

Top keywords by volume

The Numbers

U.S. media has seen 239 sources drive 658 unique narratives in the past three days alone. It’s safe to say that this topic is being covered heavily. California media outlets have been amplifying this narrative more than double the next highest state. This most likely stems from the fact that at one point, California’s average gas price sat at $6.40 per gallon.

One of the most common phrases amplified was “bear market,” used in reference to the state of the S&P 500. EdgeTheory picked up 1784 different mentions of this one term. We have seen a roughly 21% drop from recent highs in the S&P 500 which officially puts us in a bear market.

Other common trends include “federal reserve,” “raise interest rates,” and “highest level.” President Joe Biden’s administration stated they have given the federal reserve the freedom to make decisions on their own in hopes that they are able to slow down a potential recession.

Political Biases

Left- and right-leaning media outlets are evenly split on the recession narrative. The main difference however is the phrases and key terms that these media sources are using.

Top amplifiers by bias

When taking a look at the more liberal leaning sites, three of the most common terms were: “federal reserve,” “increase interest rates,” and “central bank.” The left-leaning narrative was focused on ways to possibly solve the possibility of economic crisis. In addition, their coverage focuses on the global economic decline.

Alternatively, right-leaning outlets use contrasting terms like: “bear market,” “white house,” and “President Joe.” The conservative narrative much more focused on the domestic issues. The right leaning networks are also pointing out similarities to previous recessions suggesting that we may be facing another 2008-style crash.

Outlook

It will be important to watch how the recession narrative shifts with the U.S. congressional midterm elections approaching. With Republicans looking to reclaim the majority in both the House and Senate, their narrative will undoubtedly center on the tumultuous state of our economy. On the flip side, left-leaning networks will either find a new narrative to discuss, or continue to focus the trend on solutions and possible ways the Biden administration may alleviate some of financial strain on middle- and low-income households.

This brief will continue to update as the media reacts to the state of the American economy.

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