Stock Market Could Crash Another 20% If U.S. Plunges Into Recession

As a growing number of investment banks and company chiefs warn that the likelihood of a recession is increasing, analysts at Morgan Stanley are telling clients that the stock market—despite reeling from a steep selloff in recent weeks—has plenty of room to fall before hitting levels consistent with recession-era lows, which would be especially bad for cyclical industries like travel and hospitality.

Despite major stock indexes plunging more than 20% below recent highs, markets are still only down by about 60% of the average drawdown compared with previous recessions (which denote two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth), Morgan Stanley analysts told clients in a Tuesday note.

As the Federal Reserve works to combat decades-high inflation with interest rate hikes that will likely stunt economic growth, a recession “is no longer just a tail risk,” analysts led by Michael Wilson wrote, putting the odds of one over the next year at 35%, up from 20% in March.

They estimate the S&P 500 could plunge as much as 20% to 3,000 points, from current levels of 3,770, if the U.S. falls into recession, citing earnings that tend to fall an average of 14% during recessions—a marked turnaround from record profits and 25% growth last year.

“The bear market will not be over until recession arrives—or the risk of one is extinguished,” the analysts said, adding that market weakness will likely continue over the next three to six months in the face of “very stubborn” inflation readings.

With high prices deterring some consumer spending, Morgan Stanley says stocks tied to discretionary spending, like those in retail, hotels, restaurants and clothing, are at higher risk of a downturn, while those tied to the internet, payments and durable household goods (like appliances and computers) are less at risk.

The note comes the same day Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the U.S. economy will “more likely than not” face a recession in the near term, echoing concerns raised by several other top business leaders and financial institutions following last week’s steeper-than-expected hike in key interest rates, which tend to deter spending by making borrowing more expensive.

Morgan Stanley’s not alone in raising recession odds this week. In a note to clients Monday, Goldman Sachs’ chief economist, Jan Hatzius, said the firm now sees “recession risk as higher and more front-loaded,” given the Fed’s more aggressive rate hike, putting the odds of a recession over the next two years at 48%, up from 35% previously. The investment bank estimates tighter financial conditions could drag down GDP as much as 2 percentage points over the next year.

Restaurants are most at risk of a pullback in spending, according to a Morgan Stanley survey of some 2,000 consumers. Roughly 75% of respondents said they’ll cut back on dining out over the next six months, while 60% said they’d do so on deliveries and takeout from restaurants. Though driving much of the inflationary gains, essential items like gas and groceries should see more resilient spending, with roughly 40% of consumers saying they’d cut back on either.

Major stock indexes plunged into bear market territory last week ahead of the Fed’s largest interest rate hike in 28 years, and the gloomy sentiment has ushered in waves of layoffs among recently booming technology and real estate companies. “We don’t believe the Fed can stop the issues that are causing inflation on the supply side without absolutely wrecking the economy, but at this point, it looks like they are resigned to the fact that it must be done,” says Brett Ewing, chief market strategist of First Franklin Financial Services. Goldman Sachs has warned clients it expects another 75-basis-point hike in July.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Source: Stock Market Could Crash Another 20% If U.S. Plunges Into Recession—These Industries Are Most At Risk

The best hope for stocks right now is a recession that crushes inflation and allows the Fed to slow, stop or even reverse rate hikes.

Why it matters: Down 20.5% so far in 2022, it’s the ugliest year for the S&P since 1962. The drop vaporized $9 trillion in paper wealth, delivering a psychological shock to millions whose retirement is mostly in stocks.

Driving the news: Facing persistent inflation, the Fed delivered its largest rate hike since 1994 on Wednesday.

  • The increase is the monetary-policy equivalent of stomping on the country’s economic brakes — sharply increasing the risk that growth contracts.
  • Despite the recent beating shares have taken, the Fed’s announcement was greeted with open arms by investors. The S&P 500 rose 1.5%. The Nasdaq rose 2.5%. Interestingly, the Russell 2000 — which is more closely tied to short-term ups and downs of the economy — rose less, at just 1.4%.

The big picture: A huge rate hike that raises the risk of recession may sound like a bad thing for stocks — but with inflation still rising, it isn’t.

  • Essentially, investors are saying they prefer a big, sharp Fed-induced economic shock now if it quickly gets inflation under control. In theory, that could allow lower rates to return after inflation is vanquished.
  • Low interest rates have been crucial to the performance of stocks over the last decade.

Context: While Americans have a habit of looking at the stock market as an economic indicator, the linkage between economic growth and stock market performance is surprisingly weak, and, some academics say, nonexistent. The most extreme example of this reality arose during the bleakest moments of the COVID-related recession.

  • In April 2020, the U.S. economy was essentially on life support. Unemployment that month was 14.7%. There were, quite literally, bread lines miles long.
  • That month the S&P 500 posted its best month in 33 years, rising nearly 13%.

What gives? Well, in late March 2020, the Federal Reserve had to cut interest rates to zero and restart money-printing programs do deal with the COVID crisis. (The Federal government also began dumping what would ultimately be trillions of dollars into the economy to keep people afloat.)

The intrigue: But don’t recessions hurt corporate earnings? Wouldn’t that make stocks fall?

  • Earnings are one ingredient in stock prices, and they can definitely fall during recessions. But recently, interest rates — essentially the yield on the 10-year Treasury note — have played a more important role in establishing stock prices than earnings.
  • That’s because those interest rates largely determine the valuation multiple — otherwise known as a price-to-earnings ratio — investors use to determine the price they’re willing to pay for those future earnings (effectively, the price of a stock).
  • TL;DR: Higher rates = lower valuations, and vice versa.
  • So, even if earnings are expected to fall, stock prices can still rise, if valuations rise enough. Those valuations are largely determined by interest rates — and those rates are largely determined by Fed decisions.

The Federal Reserve made an aggressive new move in its campaign to bring down inflation Wednesday, raising its target interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, the steepest rate hike since 1994 — and indicated another similar move could be coming next month.

Driving the news: In addition to increasing their target for short-term interest rates to a range of between 1.5% and 1.75% Fed officials projected that their target rate will reach 3.4% late this year, far higher than the 1.9% they envisioned in March. Mortgages, car loans and credit card debt are all about to get more expensive.

Yields on U.S. government bonds — known as Treasuries — rocketed in recent days, as Friday’s inflation report convinced many that a combination of persistently high inflation and aggressive Federal Reserve interest hikes, is on the way. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note surged to nearly 3.50% in recent days, a level not seen since 2011……

  Matt Phillips

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A Recession is Now The Base Case Scenario For Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo slashed its economic outlook this week, with a year-end recession now the bank’s base case scenario as the Federal Reserve moves to tame red-hot inflation.

In an updated forecast, Wells Fargo cuts its 2022 GDP growth target to 1.5%, down from 2.2%, and slashed its 2023 target to a decline of 0.5%. The bank had previously predicted that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced in a nation, would expand by 0.4% next year.

Overall, Wells Fargo expects a total peak-to-trough contraction of 1.3% across three quarters. By comparison, the economy shrunk 10% during the very brief, but sharp, pandemic-induced recession in 2020. During the 2008 financial crisis, the economy fell by 3.8%.

In making the new projection, Wells Fargo noted that “consumer activity has weakened” considerably as the economy confronts new COVID-19 outbreaks and restrictions, sky-high inflation and a strong U.S. dollar, in addition to the Russian war in Ukraine and aggressive Fed monetary policy.

Economic growth in the U.S. is already slowing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month that gross domestic product unexpectedly shrank in the first quarter of the year, marking the worst performance since the spring of 2020, when the economy was still deep in the throes of the COVID-induced recession.

Wells Fargo is not alone in its gloomy economic outlook; there are growing fears on Wall Street that the Fed may inadvertently trigger a recession with its war on inflation, which climbed by 8.3% in April, near a 40-year high. Other firms forecasting a downturn in the next two years include Bank of America, Fannie Mae and Deutsche Bank.

Fed policymakers already raised the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points earlier this month for the first time in two decades and have signaled that more, similarly sized rate hikes are on the table at coming meetings as they rush to catch up with inflation. Chairman Jerome Powell recently pledged that officials will “keep pushing” until inflation falls closer to the Fed’s 2% target.

Still, he has acknowledged there could be some “pain associated” with reducing inflation and curbing demand but pushed back against the notion of an impending recession, identifying the labor market and strong consumer spending as bright spots in the economy. Still, he has warned that a soft landing is not assured. 

“It’s going to be a challenging task, and it’s been made more challenging in the last couple of months because of global events,” Powell said Wednesday during a Wall Street Journal live event, referring to the Ukraine war and COVID lockdowns in China.

But he added that “there are a number of plausible paths to having a soft or soft-ish landing. Our job isn’t to handicap the odds, it’s to try to achieve that.”

Source: A recession is now the base case scenario for Wells Fargo | Fox Business

Wells Fargo & Co. clients are coping well with inflation and rising interest rates, which hasn’t yet stressed business at the bank, according to Chief Financial Officer Mike Santomassimo.

“So far, so good,” he said Thursday in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Clients come into this both on the consumer side and the corporate side in a much better position than they would have in other rising-rate environments.”

Wells Fargo reported first-quarter results earlier in the day, missing Wall Street estimates on revenue and expenses. Non-interest expenses were $13.9 billion, higher than what analysts had forecast. Revenue declined, bringing net income down to $3.7 billion, the San Francisco-based lender said in a statement

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China Blows $46 Billion A Month With ‘Zero-Covid’ Fiasco

Economists everywhere are obsessed with whether China can make this year’s 5.5% gross domestic product target. But two other figures will say far more about how Asia’s biggest economy might affect the global system.

The first—62 million—refers to the number of Shanghai-region residents being locked down this week to limit Covid-19 cases. The second—$46 billion—refers to how much GDP per month Hong Kong economist Zheng Michael Song thinks Covid policies are costing China.

Think about the epic scale of these numbers. The first is bigger than Italy’s 60 million population and almost in the neighborhood of France’s 65 million. Both are members of the Group of Seven nations. The second is bigger than Venezuela’s annual GDP of the Icelandic and Zambian economies combined.

All this because Chinese President Xi Jinping is sticking with a “zero Covid” strategy against which health experts, economists and geopolitical observers everywhere have been warning.

Take Ian Bremmer, CEO of Eurasia Group, who each year puts out a widely anticipated list of top risks for the year ahead. In 2021, for example, Bremmer’s biggest concern was Joe Biden’s ability to restore calm to Washington, post-Donald Trump presidency. For 2022, worries about China’s Covid policy topped the list, while Russia came in fifth.

Bremmer’s rationale: how China’s Covid absolutism would collide with increasingly transmissible variants. “The end of the pandemic will arrive soon as the virus collides with highly vaccinated populations and treatments that prevent death,” Bremmer argues. “But most countries, and particularly China, will have a harder time getting there. China’s zero Covid policy, which looked incredibly successful in 2020, is now fighting against a much more transmissible variant with vaccines that are only marginally effective.”

And here we are. News of fresh lockdowns in Shanghai belie hints that Xi’s government might pivot to a more “dynamic” strategy prioritizing testing and better vaccines over strict city-wide clampdowns.

“China’s Covid-19 lockdown of Shanghai saw oil prices slump overnight, as investors fretted about more sweeping containment measures, which would negatively impact China’s energy consumption,” says analyst Jeffrey Halley at Oanda.

This gets us back to the economist Song’s figures. Song, an economist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Bloomberg and other news agencies that Xi’s lockdowns will probably cost the nation roughly 3.1% of GDP in lost output. The important caveat, though, is that the negative impact could double if Xi adds more cities to the lockdown list.

Given how risk-averse Xi is approaching 2022, this seems less an “if” than a “when.” And when that 62-million-person figure swells, so does Song’s $46 billion estimate. If things compound out from there, the global headwinds could be felt everywhere.

The good news is that Xi’s team can recalibrate if they so choose. The People’s Bank of China was ramping up stimulus before Russia’s Ukraine invasion exacerbated global uncertainty. And Xi’s government stockpiled nearly $190 billion of cash in January and February that could be deployed at any moment. Xi’s team has hinted that tax cuts may be on the way.

Yet Xi’s zero-Covid stubbornness collides with slowing growth everywhere as surging prices of oil and other commodities fuels inflation fears. Add in the Federal Reserve launching what could be a long tightening cycle and you have a near perfect storm of threats to world growth.

Another imponderable complicates 2022: how Xi’s headlong flight toward securing a third term as China leader later this year informs his priorities list. If not for this aspirational crowning achievement hovering about all Xi does, a Covid-19 pivot might’ve happened already. Xi may be loath to welcome headlines about surging infection rates ahead of coronation day.

In the meantime, economists are left to count the ways 2022 could go awry—one Chinese lockdown at a time. There also are open questions about whether surging U.S. bond yields could unnerve global markets. The Bank of Japan, too, is intervening in markets to stop interest rates from spiking.

Other potential risks include Ukraine. Xi has quite a tightrope walk between his pal Vladimir Putin and global outrage over the Russian leader’s unproved war. If Xi helps Putin evade global sanctions, U.S. President Biden and his allies might slap sanctions on the second-biggest economy.

Betting against China making its annual growth figures is often a fool’s errand. But making 5.5% in 2022 will require Xi doing the math on tradeoffs between maintaining his Covid absolutism and the GDP fallout to come.

I am a Tokyo-based journalist, former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.”

Source: China Blows $46 Billion A Month With ‘Zero-Covid’ Fiasco

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China COVID Outbreak: Lockdown In Economic Hub Shenzhen Rattles Investors

Shenzhen, China’s technology manufacturing hub, will be shut down for the next week in effort to curb the rising Covid cases. Only essential businesses are allowed to open, which is expected to cause a ripple effect on the global supply chain.

Home to Chinese tech giants including Huawei and Tencent, Shenzhen ranks third among Chinese cities in manufacturing output meaning any prolonged closure will be felt sharply.

Its factories tool the world with mobile phones, while some of China’s best tech brains go there to churn out apps and games — but Shenzhen is now in lockdown as the coronavirus inflicts economic pain on the country and rattles markets.

Residents in the city of 17.5 million — sometimes dubbed China’s answer to Silicon Valley — have been ordered not to leave unless necessary and public transport has been halted as the country battles its worst virus outbreak in two years.

Most firms have been told to switch to working from home, which is impossible for many factories whose disruption is fuelling unease over supply chains and services. But how significant is Shenzhen to China’s economy?

Home to Chinese tech giants including Huawei and Tencent, Shenzhen ranks third among Chinese cities in economic output meaning any prolonged closure will be felt sharply.

“It is a manufacturing hub and also a tech centre for China,” Hong Hao, of financial services firm Bocom International, told AFP.

Already, major Apple supplier Foxconn has suspended operations in Shenzhen while other tech manufacturers such as Netac Technology also halted some production. Mechanical and electronic products make up 80 percent of exports from the southern powerhouse, which neighbours Hong Kong.

“This is a very significant lockdown and I think the full impact is yet to be revealed,” Hong added. Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist of Pinpoint Asset Management, said consumption would be “hurt quickly and severely” in a lockdown, followed by production and investment.

“It’s a ripple effect,” Hong of Bocom said, noting that other parts of China which depend on Shenzhen’s output could be hit. “They would be working less efficiently than before.” At least six companies on Apple’s supplier list are based in Shenzhen, where other producers such as electric-vehicle firm BYD are also based. But some businesses deemed essential remain open.

Restrictions across the country hitting key hubs could pile pressure on China’s growth target of around 5.5 percent — already the lowest annual GDP target in decades — while Shenzhen’s proximity to Hong Kong is stoking fears of challenges in stopping transmission.

The Yantian port, among the world’s busiest, is also in Shenzhen. It is the largest single port in China, with economists noting it accounts for 10.5 percent of China’s foreign trade container throughput.

In previous outbreaks, the port has been forced to suspend the processing of containers, leading to backlogs, and the current outbreak adds to worries over already-high shipping prices. The port appears to be operating for now, although virus cases could trigger disruptions.

Economists say the impact depends on how long restrictions persist. Zhaopeng Xing of ANZ Research told AFP he believed authorities “can manage Omicron” as well as before within a month or so. “The shock is short-lived,” he said, adding that it would be unlikely to hit the long-term outlook.

Source: China COVID outbreak: Lockdown in economic hub Shenzhen rattles investors

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China Power Crunch Hits GDP Growth

SHANGHAI — China’s economic growth continued to decelerate in the third quarter, as gross domestic product came in at 4.9%, softened by the country’s zero-tolerance COVID measures and energy shortages.

The year-on-year GDP growth rate, published on Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics for the three-month period through September, was below the median 5% expansion forecast by 29 economists in a Nikkei poll released earlier this month.

The figure slid from 7.9% for the April-to-June quarter, weighed down by high commodity prices amid uncertainty kindled by the China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis, which is piling risk onto the property and banking sectors.

The reading also reflects weak overall activity, including in manufacturing and consumer spending. Retail sales of consumer goods, a barometer of household spending, edged up by 4.4% in September, compared to 2.5% in August, but was still well below the double-digit growth that had continued till June.

Certain factors have persuaded economists to be cautious, at least for the near term. Rising coal prices are hitting the profitability of electricity providers, making the utilities reluctant to generate power. As it prioritizes supplying power to sectors that touch everyday life, the government is capping supplies to the steel, cement and other energy-intensive industries. The result has been less production and more inflation.

The statistics office last week announced that the producer price index for manufactured goods in September rose by 10.7% from a year earlier, the strongest surge in the past 25 years, as far back as comparable data goes.

The government forecasts China’s economy to grow 6% for all of 2021, the International Monetary Fund projects 8% and the Asian Development Bank 8.1%.

The economy expanded 9.8% in the first nine months of the year, largely driven by trade as both exports and imports jumped nearly 23% in yuan terms.

Service sector growth of 19.3%, led by software and information technology services, also stoked the nine-month expansion.

The statistics office said GDP grew 0.2% in the third quarter from the previous three months, which the U.K.’s Capital Economics noted is the second lowest since China began revealing such data in 2010.

Growth lost more steam in September as industrial production slid to 3.1% from 5.3% in August, while the official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.6. It slipped below 50 — which the statistics office says “reflects the overall economy is in recession” — for the first time since February 2020.

Meanwhile, officials have been playing down the country’s power crunch and worries over the Evergrande crisis.

“The energy supply shortage is temporary, and its impact on the economy is controllable,” Fu Lingxuan, the National Bureau of Statistics’ spokesperson told reporters on Monday, citing recent measures to boost coal supply.

Zou Lan, head of financial markets at the country’s central bank, said Evergrande had “blindly diversified and expanded business,” urging the property group to offload assets to raise funds to pay off debts.

“The risk exposure of individual financial institutions to Evergrande is not big and the spillover effect for the financial sector is controllable,” Zou said on Friday.

While fallout from the power shortages and concerns over the property market may have eased from September, their impact on China’s broader economy should not be underestimated and will be a major downside risk in the fourth quarter, warned Shanghai-based Yue Su, principal economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“The slowdown in the property sector will affect the activities of firms in areas such as construction contracting, building materials and home furnishing,” said Su, adding that energy-intensive industries will face rising costs as well.

Hong Kong-based Tommy Wu of Oxford Economics said policymakers are likely to take more steps to shore up growth, including ensuring ample liquidity in the interbank market, accelerating infrastructure development and relaxing some aspects of overall credit and real estate policies.

And not all economists agree with China’s official data.

Julian Evans-Pritchard of U.K.-based Capital Economics said the research firm’s in-house measure, the China Activity Proxy, tracked a sharp 3.9% quarter-on-quarter contraction in the third quarter, compared to a 3.0% expansion in the previous quarter.

“For now, the blow from the deepening property downturn is being softened by very strong exports,” said Evans-Pritchard. “But over the coming year, foreign demand is likely to drop back as global consumption patterns normalize coming out of the pandemic and backlogs of orders are gradually cleared.”

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped as much as 0.92% on Monday morning, before closing for the midday break down 0.35%.

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Source: China power crunch hits GDP growth – Nikkei Asia

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