The Next Recession May Come By Stealth
Markets have been blowing hot and cold regarding the prospects of a recession in the U.S. The Institute of Supply Management’s November survey shows that the index of factory activities in the U.S. fell to 48.1 from 48.3 in October (any reading below 50 is indicative of a contraction). This is confounding the expectation that America’s domestic industrial production would improve in anticipation of a “deal” in the U.S.-China trade war. However, the Department of Labor also reported that 266,000 jobs have been added to the economy in November, bringing unemployment rate down to a historic low of 3.5%. A confusing situation has just been made more confusing.
It has been said that generals are always fighting the last war. It’s not that different when it comes to fighting economic downturns. Since the global financial crisis a decade ago, we have been scouring the horizon for any signs of financial fragility, such as asset bubbles, that could plunge us into the next global recession. Despite mounting evidence of a weakening economy, there are no asset bubbles comparable to that of the pre-2008 period. And we won’t find any, even as we edge closer to the next recession. Since the last global financial crisis, the global economy has been reshaped by different forces, and the coming recession will be caused by factors totally different from those of the last one.
First off, the global economy today is mired in uncertainty arising from the trade war, an enfeebled Europe, Brexit and rising geopolitical tensions. An even deeper source of uncertainty is that the liberal global economic order, in place since the 1950s, is dying. Two trends are converging to kill it. The first is the West’s declining economic dominance relative to the rest of the… Read the rest