Economists and market watchers have spent the last few months trying to figure out if we are headed toward, or maybe already in, a recession. But there’s a growing chorus wondering if the U.S. economy is headed instead for just a long period of slow or mediocre growth.
“Most of us have grown up at the time when we are used to historically exceptionally rapid growth,” in the global economy, said Jaana Remes, a economist and partner at McKinsey Global Institute. “Yet, when you think about looking ahead, it’s not at all clear that that momentum that we all think of as the normal rate of growth will be sustainable.”
Slow growth, even over the long term, is different than negative growth over time, which can lead to recession.
“In a slowdown,” said Chun Wang, a portfolio manager at Leuthold Group, “you may [not] get, say, a pay raise, but in a recession, you might lose a job.”
But it’s the uncertainty over which one is coming that bothers small business owners like Todd Mikkelson, owner of Sprayrack in Minnesota, a company that makes equipment to test waterproofing on windows and doors.
“The slow growth is kind of a dull headache, to be frank,” Mikkelson said. “Whether it’s slow growth or a recession … the unpredictability does cause a problem for me and other small business owners that I know.”