Over a 12-month horizon, we now believe a U.S. recession is very likely, but aren’t confident enough to make the call when the forecast window is cut in half. Second-half stock returns could be decent if the business-cycle peak is still a year away. Then again, there’s peril in waiting for “too much” confirmation of recession.
Jim Floyd and Steve Leuthold believe that U.S. consumer price inflation has peaked and is headed for the +3% level by mid-2009. With current headline inflation running at +5.4%, that implies there is plenty of disinflation in the pipeline.
Optimists have continuously cited low unemployment and the ever resilient U.S. consumer as two “pillars of strength” that will help keep the economy afloat. It has become considerably more difficult to make this case in recent months, as jobs and spending data have weakened to levels associated with recessions.
What little discussion of a possible U.S. recession there had been in the first half of the year has dried up with an apparent pick up in the economy. “Inside The Stock Market” this month presents a 2008 Recession Watch, identifying some indicators which may prove useful in assessing the possibly of a coming recession.