The attached note looks at the risk of recession in the US economy. The key points are as follows:
- Where the US economy goes is critical to the outlook for shares, including for the Australian share market.
- While the US yield curve is flashing warning signs and issues around trade and Iran could cause short-term volatility, the excesses that normally precede US recessions – a spending boom, surging private debt and/or rising inflation/tight monetary policy – are absent.
- This along with the combination of easing monetary conditions globally is likely to see growth continue suggesting that US – and hence global and Australian – shares are likely to be higher in 6-12 month’s time.
A common concern ever since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) ended a decade ago is that the next recession is imminent. This concern has become more pronounced recently as yield curves – ie the gap between long-term bond yields and short-term borrowing rates – have inverted (or gone negative) as in the US. This concern has taken on added currency now that the US economic expansion is the longest on record. Surely it must be living on borrowed time?
This matters a lot. The US is the world’s biggest economy in US dollar terms (at 24% of world GDP), its share market is around 56% of global share market capitalisation and being central to the world’s financial system it sets the direction for global share markets, including Australia’s. What’s more, while share corrections (say falls of 5-15%) and even mild bear markets (with say a 20% decline that turns around quickly) are common, the key driver of whether they turn into a major bear market (where shares fall 20% and a year later are down another 20% or so like in the GFC) is whether we see a recession or not – notably in the US (see the table in Correction time for shares?). So, whether a US recession is imminent or not is critically important in terms of whether a major bear market is imminent.