Thanks is part to economists fretting about the impact of our multifaceted trade wars, mixed with an obscure measure of impending recession called the inverted yield curve and topped with the realization that everything has been chugging along nicely for way too long, there has been a lot of media chatter about the the business bubble bursting of late.
“It’s been more than 10 years -- a record long time, in fact -- since the U.S. economy experienced a recession. More signs are popping up that another one could be on the horizon,” Janna Herron’s points out for USA Today this morning.
“The upside is that most economists don’t expect this next downturn, whenever it should occur, to be anything like the Great Recession, which broke records for length and severity. But typical downturns are no picnics, either.”
Herron proceeds to describe what typically happens during a typical recession. It starts with the loss of jobs in manufacturing and related industries -- and then in financial services, construction, tech, media and entertainment. Stocks tank (but generally bounce back a lot more quickly than happened last time).
The Wall Street Journal’s Shayndi Raice, meanwhile, writes that “shipments of recreational vehicles to dealers have fallen about 20% so far this year, after a 4.1% drop last year, according to data from the RV Industry Association. Multiyear drops in shipments have preceded the last three recessions.”
“The RV industry is better at calling recessions than economists are,” Ball State University economist Michael Hicks tells Raice. “Mr. Hicks says softening consumer demand for RVs coupled with rising vehicle prices due to tariffs suggests the economy is either in a recession or soon headed for one,” Raice explains.
It’s not just us, of course.
“Germany’s central bank has warned that Europe’s largest member could fall into recession this autumn. In a new monthly report, the Bundesbank said Germany’s economy may be shrinking in the current quarter (July-September). It fears that factories are struggling, dragging the wider economy down,” The Guardian writes.
The glum reports, and recent downticks in the stock market, have the President worried. He held a conference call with J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan and Citigroup’s Michael Corbat last Wednesday as the stock market tanked, “people with knowledge of the situation” tell CNBC’s Hugh Son, Brian Schwartz and Kayla Tausche.
The executives told Trump “that the consumer is doing well, but that they could be doing even better if issues including the China-U.S. trade war were resolved,” one source reported.
That trade war, in turn, is tending to drag down the market.
“During his first two years in office, Donald Trump regularly pointed to the stock market as proof of his leadership’s effectiveness. Experts may have shaken their heads, saying that stock values aren’t an accurate measure of the country’s economic performance. But they are popular with voters, who check their 401(k) investments, and, thus, with politicians,” Erik Sherman wrote for Fortune in early June.
“When it comes to talking himself up, Trump in particular has compared himself to Barack Obama. So, how do the two presidents measure up in terms of growth in major indexes, measured between their inauguration and May 31 of their third year in office?
“The short answer is that Trump has quite a way to go. Under Obama, the S&P 500 grew by 56.4%. The Dow Jones Industrials Average was up 50.6% and the Nasdaq, 92.9%. The numbers under Trump were 21.4% for the S&P 500, 25.2% for the Dow, and 34.2% for Nasdaq,” Sherman concludes.
With an ongoing strong economy one of the central themes of the 2020 reelection campaign, the President and his advisors went on the offensive over the weekend.
“White House trade advisor Peter Navarro disputed that the yield curve had inverted. He said the curve was flat and claimed this is a sign that foreign capital is flowing into the U.S., which is bidding up bond prices on the long end and bidding down yields,” CNBC’s Spencer Kimball writes .
“In this case, the flat curve is actually the result of a very strong Trump economy,” Navarro said in an interview on CNN.
Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council under Trump, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he does not foresee a recession “‘at all,’ despite warning signs exhibited by the bond market,” Matthew Kazin reports for Fox News.
The President himself tweeted: “Our economy is the best in the world, by far. Lowest unemployment ever within almost all categories. Poised for big growth after trade deals are completed. Import prices down, China eating Tariffs. Helping targeted Farmers from big Tariff money coming in. Great future for USA!”
Earlier, speaking to reporters before Air Force One took off from New Jersey yesterday, Trump said: “I don’t see a recession. … I'm prepared for everything. I don’t think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich.”
Axios skeptically ran that last quote under the headline: “Save the Tape.”