In a surprising turn of events, top European bank UBS is sounding the alarm, forecasting a looming recession for the United States in 2024. According to their recent analysis, this economic downturn is poised to trigger a substantial response from the Federal Reserve, with interest rate cuts that could be nearly four times more aggressive than what the market currently anticipates.
The Forecast: An Unprecedented 275 Basis Point Cut
UBS delivered a bold prediction, suggesting that the Federal Reserve will respond to the impending economic challenges with an unprecedented interest rate cut of 275 basis points (a way to measure small changes in interest rates, where one basis point equals 0.01%, making discussions about tiny shifts more straightforward).
This projection, revealed in a research note led by economist Arend Kapteyn and strategist Bhanu Baweja, far surpasses the market’s expectation of a 75-basis-point reduction, as indicated by the CME Group’s Fedwatch tool.
March 2024 Unveils Pronounced Fed Easing Cycle
Describing a key aspect of UBS’s forecast, the team noted, “One of the key features of UBS’s forecast is the very pronounced Fed easing cycle seen unfolding from March 2024 onwards.”
They anticipate rates plummeting to a mere 1.25% in the first half of 2025, reflecting a strategic move by the Federal Reserve to counteract the anticipated recession slated for the second and third quarters of 2024.
Reasons Behind the Projections
The UBS team attributed their forecast to a combination of falling inflation rates and a broader economic slowdown. The expected recession, they argue, will prompt the Federal Reserve to initiate this drastic easing cycle.
Fed’s Strategic Move
The easing cycle is seen as a preemptive measure to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn on both headline and core inflation.
From Tightening to Easing
This comes on the heels of the Federal Reserve’s efforts since March 2022 to raise borrowing costs from near-zero to approximately 5.5%, aiming to curb soaring inflation.
Despite hitting a four-decade high of 9.1% in June of the previous year, inflation has started to cool. However, it remains significantly above the central bank’s 2% target.
U.S. Economic Landscape
The tightening campaign initiated by the Federal Reserve was expected to weigh on the economy. However, the United States has managed to avoid a recession thus far.
Robust Q3 Growth Contrasts With UBS’s Recession Warning
The third quarter of the year witnessed a robust expansion of 4.9% in the country’s gross domestic product, marking the highest growth rate in two years.
Job Market Resilience
The job market has also demonstrated resilience in the face of the Fed’s interest rate hikes.
Despite a slight uptick in the unemployment rate in recent months, it still hovers below 4%.
The recent recession prediction by Kapteyn and Baweja appears to contradict an earlier outlook from UBS’s head of asset allocation for the Americas, Jason Draho.
UBS’s Jason Draho Envisions ‘Roaring ‘20s’ Amid U.S. Economic Resilience
In a presentation earlier this month, Draho painted a different picture, suggesting that the surprising resilience of the U.S. economy in the current year could set the stage for a “roaring ’20s” period characterized by higher GDP growth, inflation, bond yields, and interest rates.
Eyes on the Fed
As these conflicting views unfold, all eyes will be on the Federal Reserve’s actions in the coming months and how the U.S. economy navigates the challenges on the horizon.
Federal Reserve’s Dilemma
UBS’s bold forecast, if realized, could reshape the economic landscape and have far-reaching implications for businesses, investors, and households across the nation. Stay tuned for updates as the situation evolves..
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