Analysts have been predicting and then revising predictions that the U.S. is about to enter a recession, if not already in one, since the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates in March 2022.
Reuters polls of economists showed the risk of a recession rising from 25 percent in April 2022, the month after the first rate hike, to 65 percent in October. In August, the risk was down to 55 percent.
Goldman Sachs in July predicted the probability of a U.S. recession in the next year had fallen to 20 percent, with recent economic data signaling that bringing inflation down to an acceptable level would not require a downturn.
Now the tide seems to be rising again for recession calls. Marko Kolanovic, chief market strategist and co-head of global research at JPMorgan, is warning of recession and bracing for a 20 percent market plunge.
“I’m not sure how we’re going to avoid it [recession] if we stay at this level of interest rates,” Kolanovic told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Thursday.
High interest rates are creating a breaking point for stocks and choosing cash at a 5.5 percent return in money market and short-term Treasurys is a key protection strategy right now, according to Kolanovic.
Stocks on Wall Street sank Friday after the September jobs report showed an unexpectedly strong labor market with no signs of the cooling that had been forecast. The U.S. economy added 336,000 jobs in September, almost doubling expectations. This could strengthen the Federal Reserve’s case for continuing to raise interest rates, Karen Friar and Hamza Shaban wrote for Yahoo Finance.
The S&P 500 is down more than 5 percent over the past month. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3 percent (about 90 points, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 slumped 0.4 percent.
A near-term bounce is still possible depending on economic reports over the next few months, Kolanovic told CNBC.
″(We’re) not necessarily calling for an immediate sharp pullback,” he said. “Could there be another 5, 6, 7 percent upside in equities? Of course… But there’s a downside. It could be 20 percent downside.”
He warned that the tech stocks including Apple, Amazon, Meta, Alphabet, Nvidia, Tesla and Microsoft
are among the most vulnerable to big losses due to their historic gains amid high interest rates. The “Magnificent Seven” are up 83 percent so far this year and account for much of the S&P 500 gains.
“If there’s a recession, I think the magnificent (seven)… will catch down where the rest is,” said Kolanovic, citing sectors that have taken a beating such as utilities and consumer staples.
Despite the strong job market, Kolanovik said he thinks consumers are getting dangerously strapped for cash. “You are starting to see the stress in (the) consumer if you look at sort of the delinquencies in the (credit) cards and auto loans,” he said.
Credit card debt is climbing at rates not seen since the Great Recession, reaching record levels. Losses for card issuers have climbed in an “unusual rise” that could continue at least another year, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.
“It is unusual for losses to rise outside of an economic downturn,” Goldman Sachs analyst Ryan Nash said in a September note.
Until recently, Ed Yardeni, founder and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, has been bullish on the economy avoiding a hard landing. However, the rise in oil prices this summer has raised the prospect of a 1970s-style era of persistent inflation and a recession, Yardeni said in a note in early September.