Andrew Yang thinks 'a recession is inevitable at this point' but doesn't think stimulus checks spurred inflation

Andrew Yang, a 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and 2021 NYC mayoral candidate, is on the side of the economists saying that a U.S. recession before the end of next year is more likely than not.

“You can put me in the camp that thinks that a recession will happen sometime in the next six quarters,” Yang said in an interview for this week’s episode of Influencers with Andy Serwer (video above). The 47-year-old businessman added that he hopes the coming downturn is mild, but “I certainly think a recession is inevitable at this point.”

Yang has long championed what he calls a human-centered economy that includes his trademark idea of a universal basic income (UBI) for all Americans, and he was adamant that recent UBI-esque efforts should not take the blame for spurring inflation.

Yang’s signature idea got a small-scale test run in recent years when multiple coronavirus relief packages — signed by both then-President Trump and President Biden — included waves of stimulus checks that were sent to every American to prop up their finances during the pandemic.

The stimulus helped many Americans avert financial catastrophe amid the pandemic and have now spurred a heated debate about whether the money — especially the later rounds that went out in December 2020 and March 2021 — might have helped to overheat the economy.

“This is a source of frustration for me,” Yang says of the question, arguing that stimulus checks were a relatively small component of the overall relief packages and that the lion’s share went to businesses and local governments. “It saddens me that people are blaming checks that were either spent or saved months and months ago for some of the things that we’re experiencing now.”

Programs to ‘put buying power into the hands of consumers’

Economists agreed that the current inflation, which is sitting at a 40-year-high, has been caused by a myriad of factors from supply chain woes to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Some have also pointed to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that Biden signed last year — which included $1,400 stimulus checks and other programs like beefed-up unemployment insurance — as a factor that has led to higher inflation because of the amount of money it put into the economy.

Yang, who left the Democratic Party and founded a third party after his failed mayoral run in New York City last year, is now focused on “tools that put buying power into the hands of consumers.”

He pointed specifically to the expanded Child Tax Credit — another plank of 2021’s American Rescue plan — as what Washington D.C. should be celebrating. That program led to millions of families receiving monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child and led to a drop in child poverty.

“And, of course, American politics being what they are: we discontinued it at the beginning of this year,” Yang noted.

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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