U.S Business Cycle Risk Report – 21 October 2015

Deutsche Bank’s chief international economist advises that the US isn’t tipping into a recession. “There is a big disconnect between the current narrative in both equity and rates markets and the actual economic data,” he says via Bloomberg. “This economy is stronger than its reputation and for some reason many investors want to hold onto the 2009 story of ‘the economy is not good’ “.

That’s been the narrative all along for The Capital Spectator’s proprietary business cycle indexes. Macro risk has risen lately, according to a markets-based perspective (as discussed earlier this month), but the broad trend for the US remains positive, based on published figures to date for a diversified set of economic and financial indicators. Although the US macro trend has decelerated over the last few months–a slowdown that’s been projected on these pages for months (see here, for instance)–the available numbers in the aggregate continue to reflect a growth bias.

That said, it’s clear that the positive bias has weakened. In fact, next week’s “advance” estimate of third-quarter GDP is on track to suffer a sharp slowdown. The Atlanta Fed’s revised nowcast (as of Oct. 20) for Q3 GDP is a sluggish 0.9%–a hefty decline from Q2’s robust 3.9% increase (seasonally adjusted annual rate). The Wall Street Journal’s current survey of economists sees a stronger GDP gain for Q3—2.0%, based on the average estimate. But most forecasts are in agreement that the pace of growth has decelerated in recent months.

For the moment, however, making the leap from a lesser rate of growth to an NBER-defined recession for the US remains an act of speculation—and one with minimal support in the numbers published to date. Recession risk in the US remained low through last month, based on a broad set of economic and financial indicators through September 2015. Near-term projections of The Capital Spectator’s proprietary business cycle indexes reflect ongoing deceleration, but there’s still no sign that the macro trend overall has turned negative in a clear an unambiguous degree. Cherry-picking a few indicators to promote a particular agenda may suggest otherwise, but the overall state of macro in the US hasn’t rolled over, at least not yet.

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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