We’re not in a recession right now. That’s right, you heard me. Some people call this a pre-recession. Others call it a disruptive economic pattern that could lead to a recession. My take? We’re in a downturn of honesty and integrity on the part of many large corporations and their leaders.

Understanding Recessions

What is a recession?

A recession is a notable economic decline marked by decreased GDP, increased unemployment, and reduced spending. Typically defined by two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, recessions result from various factors, such as financial crises or policy changes, and have significant social and economic consequences.

How do recessions happen?

Recessions generally occur when there is a widespread decline in economic activity, often characterized by a decline in GDP, high unemployment, and reduced consumer spending. The causes of recessions are multifaceted and can include factors such as financial crises, changes in economic policies, external shocks, market imbalances, and business cycle fluctuations.

Wealth and Recessions

How do wealthy people cause recessions?

The behavior of wealthy individuals can influence the overall economy, and their concerns about their net worth can indirectly contribute to recessions through various channels, such as investment, consumption, asset prices, credit markets, and confidence and expectations.

Wealthy people often have money to invest in businesses, stocks, bonds, and other assets. If they become concerned about their wealth, they may reduce their investments. This can lead to reduced business expansion and a slowdown in economic growth. Also, wealthy people spend money, and their decreased spending can decrease demand for goods and services, which may result in businesses cutting back on production, laying off workers, and contributing to a recession.

When wealthy individuals become concerned about their wealth, they may sell assets to protect their net worth. This can lead to falling prices for stocks, bonds, and real estate, which harms the economy. Falling asset prices can also reduce consumer and business confidence, worsening the economic downturn. And wealthy individuals often invest in or lend money to businesses and individuals. If they become more risk-averse due to concerns about their wealth, they may reduce lending or invest in safer assets. All of this can result in tighter credit conditions, making it more difficult for businesses and consumers to access loans, slowing economic growth, and contributing to a recession.

Finally, the perceptions and actions of wealthy individuals can influence market sentiment and expectations. If they are concerned about their wealth and the state of the economy, it can lead to a negative feedback loop, where pessimism and fear of a recession become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Downturns vs. Recessions

Are downturns the same as recessions?

An economic downturn is a decline or slowdown in economic activity, while a recession is a more specific and technical term defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Knowing the difference helps us understand current financial conditions and their potential consequences.

Managing an Economic Downturn or Recession

How can you manage an economic downturn or recession?

Be like the rich! Navigate challenging times by adopting various strategies to protect your finances and enhance your job security, such as stopping spending on non-essential items, reducing debt, updating skills, focusing on job performance, and being prepared for job loss. Can of those suggestions exacerbate a recession? Let’s find out.

Supporting Workers during Downturns and Recessions

What can I do about any of this?

If you work in HR, convey to workers that they are not at fault during a recession or economic downturn, communicate honestly about the external factors affecting the company, and emphasize the broader economic context. Show empathy for their challenges and share the company’s plans to mitigate the downturn’s impact. Encourage open dialogue, provide resources and support, and foster an environment where workers feel comfortable discussing their concerns, allowing them to understand that they are not alone in experiencing the effects of the downturn.

And stop defending wealthy people and corporations. Don’t applaud a company for a “good layoff.” And, remember, one day this might be you.