Recession Fears Grow As Dow Plunges 800 Points
“The yield curves are all crying timber that a recession is almost a reality, and investors are tripping over themselves to get out of the way.”
The U.S. stock market plunged to its worst day of the year on Wednesday, responding to multiple signals that increase the likelihood of a global recession.
Most striking was the appearance of the ‘inverted yield curve,’ which refers to when short-term bonds give greater yields than long-term bonds. Since long-term bonds require more time to be paid back, they are supposed to pay better yields than short-term bonds. But in times of insecurity, the inverted yield curve emerges to signal that investors’ faith in the economy is wavering.
The yield curve inversion is one of the most reliable predictors of economic downturn, having preceded every recession in the past 50 years. Wednesday was the first time the yield curve inverted since the run-up to the Great Recession in 2007.
“I consider the inverted yield curve like a recession death grip that locks itself around the economy,” economic reporter Damian Paletta told the Washington Post. “The last nine recessions have been presaged by an inverted yield curve, which is why the stock market feels confident now that one will come after this one.”
Economists listed uncertainty from the U.S.-China trade war as among the top reasons for recession anxiety, as well as potential shock from an upcoming hard-Brexit. President Trump refused to acknowledge the negative effects of the trade war on Wednesday, although he did walk back tariffs on Tuesday after they led to an ailing stock market earlier in the week.
“China is not our problem, though Hong Kong is not helping,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Our problem is with the Fed. Raised too much & too fast. Now too slow to cut…Spread is way too much as other countries say THANK YOU to clueless Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve. Germany, and many others, are playing the game! CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE! We should easily be reaping big Rewards & Gains, but the Fed is holding us back. We will Win!”
Meanwhile, Germany and the United Kingdom’s economies appeared to contract, and China reported its weakest growth in industrial output since 2002. Argentina’s stock market plunged by 50% earlier this week, the second biggest crash of any economy since 1950.
“The stars are aligned across the curve that the economy is headed for a big fall,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, told the Post. “The yield curves are all crying timber that a recession is almost a reality, and investors are tripping over themselves to get out of the way.”
Rana Foroohar of the Financial Times similarly argues a global recession is underway. Foroohar argues that the Federal Reserve’s strategies of slashing interest rates and launching quantitative easing, a monetary policy where the central bank buys treasury securities from financial institutions to stimulate the economy, will not be enough to stave off the recession.
Foroohar also doubts the likelihood of a US-China trade deal in the near future, further contributing to uncertainty in the global market.
“In short, the Thucydides Trap is for real,” Foroohar wrote, referring to the theory that when a rising power threatens a ruling power, conflict is inevitable. “In lieu of some big shift in US foreign policy post 2020 (one that none of the major Democratic candidates has yet articulated) the US and China are now in a multi-decade cold war that will reshape the global economy and politics.”