US economists expect recession in 2020 or 2021

About 38% of survey respondents expect a contraction next year, while 34% don't see it until the following year.

21 August 2019 | Economics

We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. – Donald Trump, US president

Washington - A majority of economists expect a US recession in the next two years, but have pushed back the onset amid Federal Reserve actions.

A survey released on Monday followed president Donald Trump pushing back against talk of a looming recession as a raft of US data reports last week showed a mixed picture on the economy.

"I'm prepared for everything. I don't think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich," Trump told reporters Sunday.

The National Association for Business Economists (NABE) found far fewer experts now think the next recession will start this year compared to a survey in February.

NABE conducted its policy poll as Trump put the Fed under constant attack, demanding more stimulus, but before the central bank cut the benchmark lending rate on 31 July.

However, the Fed was already sending strong signals that it intended to pull back on the rate increases made in 2018 due to concerns starting to dog the economic outlook, including the trade war with China.

"Survey respondents indicate that the expansion will be extended by the shift in monetary policy," said NABE president Constance Hunter, who is chief economist at KPMG.

Only 2% of the 226 respondents now see a recession this year, compared to 10% in February's survey, NABE said.

However, "the panel is split regarding whether the downturn will hit in 2020 or 2021," Hunter said in a summary of the survey, which showed 38% expect a contraction of growth next year, while 34% don't see it until the following year.

More economists shifted their recession prediction to 2021, narrowing the gap from the prior report, which had many more expecting the change next year.

Fed

The results show 46% expect at least one more rate cut this year from the Fed, while about a third see policy holding where it is now, with 2.25% as the top end of the policy range.

Economists are sceptical about a resolution to Trump's trade wars, although 64% said a "superficial agreement is possible," NABE said.

But that was before Trump announced another round of tariffs of 10% on the remaining US$300 billion in goods not yet hit by US punitive duties. The new measures will take effect in two stages, on 1 September and 15 December.

As Trump continues his vocal campaign criticising the Fed, the NABE survey found economists are concerned about the impact: 55% said his remarks do not influence Fed decisions but do "compromise the public's trust in the central bank."

And over a quarter of respondents said the criticism will "cause the Fed to be more dovish than otherwise, thus threatening its independence."

The survey also asked about fiscal policy, and a majority of economists said Trump's tax cuts "had an overall negative impact on housing activity over the past 18 months," due to changes in deductions allowed for mortgage interest. – Nampa/AFP

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