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Will there be a recession, and if so, when? It depends on which economist you ask.

Kimberly Adams Feb 27, 2023
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Unsure about the future of the economy? You're not alone. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Will there be a recession, and if so, when? It depends on which economist you ask.

Kimberly Adams Feb 27, 2023
Heard on:
Unsure about the future of the economy? You're not alone. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
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You’ve probably been hearing a lot of guesses lately about when or if we’re going to be in a recession.  

You may also recall from stories we’ve done in the past that the National Association for Business Economics regularly surveys its member economists about where they think the economy is going.  

The latest edition of that Outlook Survey was released Monday, and 58% of the economists queried think we are likely to have a recession within the next 12 months. But they are kind of all over the place when it comes to exactly when it would happen and how bad it might be. 

While a majority of economists do still think a recession is more likely than not, “they’re not actually predicting a downturn in economic growth or in jobs being added in any quarter,” said Ken Simonson, the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America and a spokesperson for NABE.

Rather than a soft landing, a hard landing or no landing at all, “I see this as touch and go,” he said. “And that’s both an aviation term for just touching down for a moment and then taking off, but also in the layman’s terms of being very close to either a downturn or maybe we’re not going to have one.”

Good luck running a business based on that projection.

To stick with that aviation metaphor: “There’s a bunch of headwinds, not too many tailwinds. But a lot of just kind of in-the-middle-type, you know, variables that are somewhat neutral,” said Joe Feldman, a senior managing director at Telsey Advisory Group.

He pointed to the strong retail sales in January that contradict warnings about consumers reining in their spending.  

“It’s very confusing,” Feldman said. “When the top economists in the world can’t really agree on the direction of the trends, it’s extremely difficult for most of the companies and the retailers to come at it as well.”

So if you’re confused about where this economy is going, join the club. 

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