B1 Intermediate US 253 Folder Collection
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If I had to pick up a date for the next recession, it would be
sometime in 2020.
So you can certainly make the case that there's a lot of areas where
things look a bit unsettled.
The fact of the matter is people are looking and saying, I don't feel
like it's any easier to pay my bills this year than it was last year.
The so-called Great Recession ended more than 10 years ago.
Since then, the United States has been in its longest economic
expansion in history. But good times don't last forever.
We're basically in an industrial recession, a global one.
And it does remind me to 2016 to even '98 where the US was OK,
the rest of the world was not.
Understanding how the economy tends to evolve, we would put the
number around maybe 25 to 30 percent chance of a recession over, say,
the next four-quarter horizon.
We have to recognize there's a difference between a slowdown and
recession. We're still not in a recession camp.
Short run economic forecasting is a is a black art.
Nobody does it very well.
For what it's worth,
people who are tracking are feeling moderately depressed right now.
They're seeing slow growth right now.
And the markets, the bond market is acting as if there's a pretty
good chance of a recession sometime in the next year or so.
But who knows?
There are all kinds of things that could be going wrong.
China is clearly struggling.
Europe may very well actually already be in recession.
We probably are suffering the deflation of the tech bubble.
Corporate debt has gotten, it, I've been saying there's no one thing
this is if we're going to have a recession, it's going gonna be a
smorgasbord recessions, it's going to be no one thing, but just a
bunch of different things. Why all the doom and gloom?
Mainly, it's because the bond market recently flashed warning signs
that a recession could be on the horizon.
Other economic indicators, like U.S.
manufacturing activity, were also lower than analysts expected.
So when could a recession hit?
And how will we know?
It's been now quite some time since the 2008 recession, so the US
economy has been growing for 10, 11 years is a very long expansion.
We've seen recently, if you just look at the popular press, a bubble,
I would say in discussion about recessions.
Everyone wants to talk about it. Is there one just around the corner?
The fact that the expansion has lasted so long has no predictive
power whatsoever for whether a recession will start tomorrow.
If I had to pick a date for the next recession it would be sometime
in 2020. We're in a self-reinforcing, virtuous cycle.
Lots of jobs, low unemployment, wage growth is accelerating, that's
supporting more consumer spending, which is causing businesses to
hire, which is pushing unemployment down.
So we're in a very virtuous cycle.
That's pretty hard to break, but it can get broken.
And in my view, that probably would occur in 2020.
So the policies, the economic policies that the administration is
pursuing is doing damage to the economy.
And that's going to become increasingly more obvious as we move
through 2019 and 2020.
And that's why I think 2020 is the day of reckoning — if there is a
day of reckoning, that's when the economic expansion will end and a
recession will ensue. So let's define a recession.
The official designation of a recession comes from a place called the
National Bureau of Economic Research.
It defines a recession as the period between a peak and a trough of
economic activity. The organization doesn't give a set definition of
economic activity, but looks to indicators like domestic production,
employment and retail sales.
We do have business cycles.
God hasn't conquered the business cycle.
President Trump hasn't conquered the business cycle.
And it's hard for the Fed to conquer a business cycle, but they can
at least try to smooth it out as they go through time.
There are some other things outside of the country that could come to
infect us. I'm especially worried about Europe.
I think the European Central Bank has conducted a policy that has
hidden some really bad credits, not just in Italy, but elsewhere.
If I come to you and say I'm going to lend you money and by the way,
I'm going to pay you to take it, you're going to make mistakes.
You're going to stretch out on your risk spectrum and you're going to
make some bad decisions. That's human nature.
It's not quantifiable.
It's just human nature. Another commonly accepted definition of a
recession is two consecutive quarters or six months of negative GDP
growth. But not everyone agrees that's the best measure.
And it's not the official marker of a recession.
There are many good reasons to care about GDP, but there's a lot of
other things that real human beings, not just economists, also care
about. The first is think about inequality.
GDP tells us how big the size of the pie is.
It doesn't tell us whether people are getting fair slices.
So we should care about the distribution of income, not just how much
of it there is. GDP only tells us how much of it there is.
GDP tells us about the value of all goods and services bought and
sold in markets.
But a lot of really important stuff doesn't happen in markets.
We could double GDP tomorrow, it wouldn't be that hard.
What we do is we'd force everyone to stay at work twice as long.
Force everyone to work twice as many hours, we'll probably get
roughly, maybe a little bit less, but nearly twice as much stuff.
GDP would nearly double, but I reckon people would be miserable.
The Bureau doesn't give a time requirement in its definition.
Instead, it says a recession can last from a few months to more than
a year. In 2018 we had nearly 3 percent growth.
That's not sustainable, nor is it normal for this business cycle.
A normal pace of growth for this business cycle is a low 2 percent
handle. And that's what we think we're going to see this year.
But a growth moderation does not necessarily equal a growth
contraction or a recession.
And what's worse than a recession?
A depressio.
That's defined as severe economic decline the lasts several years.
All this means we can only confirm we're in a recession once it's
already started. The challenge with identifying risk is that it's
very hard to know in real time which factor is going to end up being
what shocks the economy.
So we can attempt to look at the potential areas of concern, and
China would be certainly one of them.
And it's not just China, it's how that spills over to Europe, the
data in Europe has weakened so there's lots of connection there as
well. So you could certainly make the case that there's a lot of
areas where things look a bit unsettled.
In the 2008 recession, economic output hit a peak in December 2007.
But the contraction wasn't formally announced until December 2008.
In July 2019, the U.S.
officially entered its longest expansion in history.
That month marked the 121st month of economic growth following the
Great Recession. Well you know, we have, we're having the longest
economic expansion since the Civil War 1991 to March 2001.
My period there, we had monetary policy all by itself but now you
have a big boost from fiscal policy and also a new regulatory regime
that came in with, which is more pro-business, that came in with
President Trump and also with the Republican Senate.
So I would expect this to be prolonged perhaps all the way through
next year. We'll see.
While this boom has been the longest, it's also been the weakest in
several areas. GDP growth and job growth have been lower than in
previous booms. The absence of faster wage growth, despite low
unemployment is something of a mystery.
But, you know, the economy is always changing.
The way we measured the unemployment rate is always the same.
But what it means in terms of how are tight labor markets, how much
bargaining power workers have.
That can change a lot depending on what the economy is like and it
looks as if we have an economy right now where between weakness of
unions, concentration of market power among employers and maybe other
factors, we just don't understand what looks like this historically
low unemployment rate isn't actually translating into the kind of
bargaining power that workers used to have.
Manufacturing is not going to come back to the United States to the
we're not going to recreate the golden era of capitalism, the 1950s
or 60s. Even if China didn't export as much manufactured goods to
us, we're not going to make mostly apparel in the United States.
We're gonna be importing it from Vietnam or from Bangladesh.
To the extent that manufacturing goes back to United States, a
process which is called onshoring, is going to be robots.
It's not going to be jobs in the Midwest, jobs in South Carolina.
So in the end, for all the rhetoric, Trump is not delivering.
And for the foreseeable future
our biggest problem is going to be a lack of labor, right?
The baby boom generation, my generation, is retiring en masse.
Every single year for the next 15 to 20 years the labor force
participation rate is going to fall by a quarter point per annum
because we are retiring.
You know, the global slowdown is a real thing.
It's just that, for right now, the U.S.
continues to look pretty strong to me.
And so, you know, there things could always happen.
But I'm not looking for a slowdown in the US anytime soon.
People don't live on GDP.
People live on their paychecks.
And paychecks have not at best kept slightly ahead of
inflation. Whatever people may say about the growth number, the fact
of the matter is people are looking and saying I don't feel like it's
any easier to pay my bills this year than it was last year.
Is a recession on the horizon?
Most likely we won't know until it's already started.
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Is A Recession Inevitable?

253 Folder Collection
洪子雯 published on October 12, 2019
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