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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