The Media Recession Index Turned Up Sharply in December

Are we due for a recession? One barometer is to simply look at how much we’re all chattering about the possibility of a recession. This is normally calculated using media mentions of the word recession, but that’s old school—and I don’t know where to get that data anyway. So instead, here are two other measures of how much we’re all talking about the economy:

The orange line is an index based on the average daily number of uses of the word recession in the Wall Street Journal. The blue line is the Google Trends chart for recession as a percentage of the Google Trends chart for expansion. It crossed the 50 percent mark two weeks ago.

As you can see, there’s been a slight upward trend in both indexes all year, followed by a huge uptick in December. The Journal index increased by 50 percent in December compared to its average over the previous 11 months, while the Google Trends index soared by 150 percent.

Why is this? Is it because we all get bored during the holiday season and invent things to chatter about? Is it because the stock market has been doing so poorly? Is it because Donald Trump has been whining about the Fed so much? Or is it because we really are getting close to a downturn? Wait and see!


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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