‘Recession not inevitable’


A recent survey of 750 company executives by the Conference Board found 76 percent believed a recession is looming, or has already begun….reports Asian Lite News

A recession in the United States is not “inevitable” but the economy is likely to slow, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said days after the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates, raising fears of a contraction.

“I expect the economy to slow” as it transitions to stable growth, she said on ABC’s “This Week,” but “I don’t think a recession is at all inevitable.”

The US economy has recovered strongly from the damage wrought by Covid-19, but soaring inflation and supply-chain snarls made worse by the war in Ukraine have increased pessimism.

Wall Street stocks tumbled after the US central bank, seeking to cool inflation, on Wednesday raised the benchmark borrowing rate by 0.75 percentage points, the sharpest rise in nearly 30 years.

And economists see worrying signs that consumer confidence is weakening, with spending on services affected most sharply.

People are beginning to hold off on vacation plans — domestic flight bookings were down 2.3 percent last month, Adobe Analytics reported — and are cutting back on restaurant visits, haircuts and home repairs.

 Inflation ‘unacceptably high’

Yellen conceded that “clearly inflation is unacceptably high,” attributing it partly to the war in Ukraine, which has pushed up energy and food prices.

But she said she did not believe “a dropoff in consumer spending is the likely cause of a recession.”

The US labor market is “arguably the strongest of the postwar period,” Yellen said, and she predicted a slowing of inflation in coming months.

For Fed chair Jerome Powell — who succeeded Yellen in that position — to control inflation without weakening the labor market will take “skill and luck,” she said, before adding, “but I believe it’s possible.”

The US economy contracted by 1.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, its first drop since 2020, and early indications point to a continued slowing in key sectors including manufacturing, real estate and retail sales.

A recent survey of 750 company executives by the Conference Board found 76 percent believed a recession is looming, or has already begun.

A recent analysis from the non-profit business group predicted a period of “stagflation” — stagnant growth coupled with inflation — in 2023.

Economist Larry Summers, who served as Treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001, said a wide range of indicators — market volatility, interest rates and inflation among them — suggest a recession on the horizon.

“All of that tells me that… the dominant probability would be that by the end of next year we would be seeing a recession in the American economy,” Summers told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

‘Pain’ at the pump

For now, Americans are trying to cope with some historically sharp price increases. The cost of gas at the pump, now around $5 a gallon, has roughly doubled in only two years.

Yellen was asked about proposals for a temporary suspension in federal gas taxes, and expressed openness.

President Joe Biden “wants to do anything he possibly can to help consumers,” she said. “And that’s an idea that’s certainly worth considering.”

The White House recently confirmed Biden will travel to major oil producer Saudi Arabia during a Mideast trip next month.

The president is “very concerned about what people are experiencing at the pump,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN Sunday.

“Saudi Arabia is head of OPEC and we need to have increased production so that everyday citizens in America will not be feeling this pain that they’re feeling.”

Billionaire and big-time hedge fund investor Leon Cooperman says the US economy will go into a recession and stocks will fall much further. He told CNBC Tuesday the S&P 500 would fall 40 per cent in total from peak to trough. He said the index might not bounce back until it hits 3,000 – 20 per cent below Monday’s close.

US stocks have a long way left to fall, says the hedge-fund veteran Cooperman, who has predicted the economy will tumble into a recession in 2023.

A total drop of 40 per cent is what he predicts as he feels recession has battered corporate profits. He said equities were unlikely to head back into a bull market anytime soon. This is based on the trend that in recent times, investors have dumped stocks in 2022 as the Federal Reserve has embarked on what is likely to be one of the fastest interest-rate-hiking cycles in its history in an effort to tame rampant inflation. Even the crypto exchange is down by 86 per cent.

Cooperman founded the hedge fund Omega Advisors, which he now runs as a family office.

According to Bloomberg economic news analysis, traders whose fear of the Fed sent markets hurtling into bear territory on Monday are girding for a long dark night as stocks head for their longest slide in months. Investors are keen to see whether the central bank gives any indication as to whether it will raise rates at a faster clip. Indications are it will as it’s the only option to rein inflation, claimed to be the worst in 40 years.

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