Major investment banks are predicting a major economic decline, while CEOs of the country's top companies are already bracing for a recession before the end of the year or early next year. (Related: Bloomberg model projection says recession is 100% certain in next 12 months.)
They know a recessionary period lurks around the corner after a key economic indicator dropped further in September.
The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) declined by 0.4 percent to 115.9 last month and had fallen by 2.8 percent between March and September, which is a reversal from the 1.4 percent growth posted in the previous six months.
"The U.S. LEI fell again in September and its persistent downward trajectory in recent months suggests a recession is increasingly likely before the year ends," said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of The Conference Board. "The six-month growth rate of the LEI fell deeper into negative territory in September, and weaknesses among the leading indicators were widespread."
The Conference Board is forecasting real GDP growth for 2022 to be 1.5 percent year-over-year amid soaring inflation, rising interest rates, tightening credit conditions and slowing labor markets. Unless the Russia-Ukraine conflict gets resolved before the year ends, the U.S. economy is expected to continue falling until the first half of 2023.
Among the investment banks expecting a recession in the U.S. is Goldman Sachs, which is going along with credit rating agency Fitch Rating's prediction of a recession beginning in the second quarter of 2023.
International bank BNP Paribas also agreed with Fitch Rating and estimated that the federal government would raise interest rates to 5.25 percent by the first quarter of 2023.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, however, told Reuters that a soft landing – a moderate economic slowdown – is still feasible.
Surprisingly, virtually all the CEOs of America's top companies are not upbeat about a quick economic turnaround in the United States.
Asked by The Conference Board in a survey to describe the expected economic conditions in the coming 12 to 18 months, a whopping 98 percent of the CEOs replied that they're already preparing for a recession. (Related: Recession or DEPRESSION? Check out how many American companies are laying off employees this year.)
The confidence of CEOs has never been this low since the Great Recession in 2007. The CEOs mentioned three major obstacles confronting the global economy: the Russia-Ukraine conflict; energy security and access; and political and governmental instability.
According to the Bloomberg Economics probability model, there's now a 100 percent chance of a recession happening in the next 12 months. A group of economists, meanwhile, stated that there's a 60 percent chance the country would slip into recession – up from its 50 percent prediction in September.
Peter Schiff, a top economist and founder of Euro Pacific Capital, put the blame on the economic shutdowns that caused the supply chain disruptions and the unabated spending of the government. "The U.S. is slumping into an inflationary depression," he said.
New Hampshire's Republican Gov. Chris Sununu offered a different view on why a severe recession is coming. Interviewed by CNN, Sununu said the budget allocated for the infrastructure and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) packages is yet to be spent.
Sununu pointed out that the bulk of the allocated money is still untouched as the ARPA funds are intended to be spent between 2024 and 2026.
"And so, inflation is going to be very exacerbated for the next few years and the recession is going to be very real. The country hasn't even begun to feel the beginning of the recession," said Sununu.
Still, there are experts who disagree with the recession projections.
"We just don't see recession here at Bank of America," said Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who cited an internal study showing that the banks' customer account balances are higher than they were prior to the pandemic.
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