Yesterday’s statement from the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee seemed a bit odd.
The committee usually releases a statement when it has something substantial to say about the economy. But saying it was maintaining the status quo on its recession call and holding off on declaring the downturn over seemed strange.
But Jeff Frankel, Harvard economist and a committee member, sheds some light on the reasoning behind the statement.
“The press was bound to find out that there had been an in-person meeting (as it did), and so the confusion created by issuing the statement was probably less than the confusion that would have been created by remaining mysteriously silent,” Frankel writes on his blog.
So there you have it. The committee thought ahead about the repercussions of its meeting getting leaked and appeared to act in a transparent manner.
But what seems to be getting lost in translation is this debate doesn’t really impact investors. Sure, officially calling the recession’s end sounds good from a psychological standpoint, but it’s not likely to impact policy decisions.
“The NBER is attempting to identify peaks and troughs in the economic cycle for research purposes,” Jeffrey Miller, CEO of NewArc Investments, writes at A Dash of Insight. “The NBER has a research mission, not a policy mission.”