Three Reasons Recession Fears Have Suddenly Increased

(Updated: 10:33 a.m. EST, 8/13/2019)

Topline: Falling stocks, trade wars and an inverted Treasury yield curve are three signs that analysts say are predicting a U.S. recession—the only problem, however, is that no one can definitively tell when (or if) one will actually happen.

  • The White House announced Tuesday it would delay some China tariffs from September 1 until December 15, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to zoom up nearly 500 points by mid-morning.
  • Stocks fell Monday and were predicted to decline Tuesday, as uncertainty mounts for a China trade deal and global economic health.
  • After President Trump surprised the world with more tariffs on Chinese goods, Goldman Sachs analysts estimate a new trade deal will not materialize before the 2020 election.
  • In the bond market, an inverted Treasury yield curve—long used by economists as a recession predictor—is nearing the same level it had reached before the 2007 recession.
  • Bank of America analysts said the odds of a recession happening in the next year are greater than 30%.
  • And Morgan Stanley analysts predict a recession in the next nine months if the trade war between the U.S. and China continues to escalate.
  • Overall, economists cannot accurately forecast recessions, but they suggest de-escalating the trade war with China could soothe fears—and help Trump’s reelection chances.

Surprising fact: Analysis by the New York Times found that recent economic downturns occur in late summer. August of 1989, 1998, 2007, 2011 and 2015 all saw slowdowns.

Key background: One of President Trump’s key platforms is a strong economy, and the stock market has reached historic highs since he assumed office. The President has often used Twitter to demand economic changes, like interest rate cuts and trade deals, and the markets tend to respond to the president’s Twitter proclamations, but it remains to be seen if the economy will continue to grow. 

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I'm a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: G

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