Aug 11, 2019 Editorial
Forget the textbook definitions of economic recession. It suffices to settle for general business slowdown, higher unemployment, lower individual and company earnings, and with these, the quality of life and social traumas that arise during such national contractions.
The fears are more than national; they are global in scope, as an economic force field gathers strength from different points.
The August 7 edition of Bloomberg -summed up matters in a tight headline: “World economy edges closer to recession as trade fears spread.” Chief among the rising concerns is that “The escalating trade war between the U.S. and China is nudging the world economy toward its first recession in a decade.” According to Bloomberg, there are increasing investor demands that “politicians and central bankers act fast to change course.”
The US President keeps pressuring the Federal Reserve on interest rates, and just as openly, looks for a weaker dollar.
In the U.S. alone, the recession risk is “much higher than it needs to be and much higher than it was two months ago,” Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. Treasury secretary and a White House economic adviser during the last downturn, told Bloomberg Television.
“You can often play with fire and not have anything untoward happen, but if you do it too much you eventually get burned.”
The article shared that “Summers still sees a less than 50/50 chance that the U.S. enters a recession in the next 12 months. Investors are much more bearish: A closely watched segment of the yield curve, the difference between 10-year and three-month notes, inverted the most since 2007, indicating bets on protracted weakness.”
And as the US economy goes, so does the rest of the world, in a more competitive, more globalized world.
Bloomberg noted, also, that “Morgan Stanley economists predict that if the U.S. puts 25% tariffs on all Chinese imports for four to six months and the country hits back, a global economic contraction is likely within three quarters. The tensions also extend beyond the U.S and China to include Japan and South Korea as well as Britain’s future relationship with the European Union. It is bad news in significant spots; big, influential spots.”
From New Zealand to Thailand to India, Central Banks rush to lower interest rates in efforts to stave off recessionary fears. It’s as if there is a concerted response to the call for interest rate action to stave off pending crises.
To compound matters, the Russians are distancing from the US dollar, and the Chinese allowed its yuan to plummet, with more of the same alleged manipulation to follow. An added complication is the U.S. Treasury’s decision this week to label China a currency manipulator after China allowed the yuan to weaken past 7 against the dollar for the first time since 2008.
“With no end in sight, there are significant downside risks to our forecasts for U.S. and global growth,” Bank of America Corp. economists warned clients this week. “If the trade war escalates — this could include a more explicit currency war — uncertainty would be considerably higher and financial conditions much tighter.” As always, a lot depends on consumer and corporate confidence.
Meanwhile, the British grapple with Brexit with no clear path finalized. And the Straits of Hormuz remain subject to the spark that could unleash the unthinkable and the strangling.
There is a gathering storm: trade wars, fears of wars, routs in the major market indexes, negative bond yield territory, and the stampede towards time-favored recession safe harbors are all ominous signs. With gold whipsawing in the $1500 per oz. range worries over a global slowdown multiply.
Still, Guyana fiddles along consumed by its power priorities. Warning indicators take a distant backseat. There are more important things in the domestic world that shove those out of consideration; things like politics, who will have the power, and who will control the money. The world doesn’t turn here.
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