Is a recession heading our way in 2020? If so, what is The Federal Reserve doing to fight it? Well, that answer may change depending who you ask.
A recent article from The New York Times stated while the current economic expansion is on track to become the longest on record, Fed officials are beginning the most extensive rethinking of how they set monetary policy since they set a formal target for inflation seven years ago.
The results will help determine how long it can keep the good times going and how effectively it will be able to fight the next downturn.
The Times added that any changes are likely to tilt policy in the direction of maintaining lower interest rates for longer periods, looking to get inflation to more consistently average 2%.
Earlier this year, however, Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTree, said that, while the housing market is expected to slow down in 2020, it should not be a cause for concern. Tendayi explained that LendingTree does not anticipate a recession this year on account of a strong labor market that will form the basis for growth. However, he added that political tensions will add to uncertainty and volatility, which may result in a loss of confidence and suppressed business and consumer spending.
However, the question of whether a recession is imminent is a complicated one. In March, the three-month and the 10-year Treasury yields inverted for the first time since mid-2007.
"Historically, an inverted yield curve is a significant sign that points to the development of an economic slowdown in the near to medium term," said Ed Delgado, President & CEO of Five Star Global, at the time. "This latest development is another in a series of economic markers that support the possibility of a future recessionary cycle.”
Ted Bauman, Senior Research Analyst and Economist at Banyan Hill Publishing, told DS News at the time, “For forecasters, inverting yield curves have about the same significance as voodoo-cursed totems for followers of that religion. That's because they have preceded the last seven official U.S. recessions. They are, therefore, not to be taken lightly.”
With the inversion coming on the heels of the Federal Reserve's announcement that it was not planning further interest rate hikes this year, along with other concerns that an economic slowdown may be on the horizon, the inverted yield curve sent stocks plummeting.
Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton, told PBS News Hour that the inversion was "the straw that broke the camel’s back" for many investors.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, about 39% of Americans think the economy is slowing down, while 17% think we're already in a recession or depression.