2018 Recession: Is it Already Here?
By: Steve Smith
I and others have spilled plenty of ink over whether a 2018 recession is imminent, or not. Is the flattening yield curve or the 10 Year Treasury crossing 3 percent a death knell for stocks?
Well believe it or not, someone called the Mad Hedge Fund Trader thinks the recession has already started. He makes his case here:
- Negative economic data reports have suddenly become increasingly common.
- The economic data flow has definitely turned sour.
- Is this a growth scare or the beginning of a full-blown recession?
It started with a slow drip.
Then it became a trickle.
Now it is an undeniable torrent.
Negative economic data reports, once as rare as hen’s teeth, have suddenly become as common as NRA bumper stickers at a Trump rally. The economic data flow has definitely turned sour.
Is this a growth scare? Or is it the beginning of a full-blown recession, the return of which investors have been dreading for the past nine years.
The data flow was hotter than hot going into January, taking the stock market to a new all-time high.
We only got final confirmation of this a few weeks ago, when the last report on Q4 GDP rose by 0.2% to 2.9%, one of the best readings in years.
Then the rot began.
At first it was just one or two minor, inconsequential reports here and there. Then they ALL turned bad. Not by large amounts, but by small incremental ones, frequent enough to notice
The February Dallas Fed General Business Activity Index dropped from 28 to 21, the March Institute of Supply Management Manufacturing Activitydeclined from 61 to 59, while Services Activity shaved a point, from 59 to 58.
The big one has been the March Nonfarm Payroll Report, which printed a soft 103,000, was far below the recent average of 200,000.
As recently as this morning, the National Association of Home Builders Sentiment Index dropped a point from 70 to 69.
When you see one cockroach, it is easy to ignore. When it becomes a massive infestation, it is a different story completely.
The potential explanations for the slowdown abound.
There is no doubt that the Trade War with China is eroding business confidence, as is the secret renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Decisions on major capital investments by companies were a slam dunk three months ago. Now, many are definitely on hold.
Related: Treasury Yields Crossed a Critical Threshold – Here’s What This Means
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