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The Depth of the Next US Recession

Whatever the immediate trigger of the next US recession, the consequences are likely to be severe. With the US government committed to pro-cyclical fiscal, macro-prudential, and even monetary policies, the authorities are in a weak position to manage the next inevitable shock.

ASPEN, COLORADO – The United States economy is doing well. But the next recession – and there is always another recession – could be very bad.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that GDP growth in the second quarter of 2018 reached 4.1% – the highest since the 4.9% seen under President Barack Obama in 2014. Another year of growth will match the record ten-year expansion of the 1990s. Add to that low unemployment, and things are looking good.

But this cannot continue forever. Given massive global corporate debt and a soaring US stock market – the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio is high by historical standards – one possible trigger for a downturn in the coming years is a negative shock that could send securities tumbling.

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