You Ask, I Answer: Are We Entering a Recession?

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You Ask, I Answer_ Are We Entering a Recession_

Mohammed asks, “Are we entering a recession? Is a recession looming?”

This was also the subject of a trending topic on LinkedIn. To understand the greater economic picture, we need to look at a basket of metrics. Watch the video for my analysis of almost two dozen economic indicators.

Disclosure/disclaimer: I am in no way a trained, professional economist. At best, I’m an armchair amateur. The video is what I perceive in the data. Do not make any financial decisions without consulting a qualified financial services professional.

You Ask, I Answer: Are We Entering a Recession?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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On today’s you ask I answer Mohammed asks, Are we entering a recession is a recession looming? I love a good economics question. This was also the topic a trending topic on LinkedIn. Is this is a recession danger likely and that it’s it’s not a question you can answer in the short term and certainly not a question you can answer with just one data point. Like so many things in data science and analytics we need to look at the big picture to understand what’s happening with the economy. So let’s take a look here at 10 years worth of data and see what a few major economic indicators are telling us. So we’ll start here at the very top of the graph this serious year age 22 arcs zero is household economic income. So this is per capita income. And what we see is the is the last observation April one was an average household income.

Per capita in the US was 39,000.

We look over here at the 22,008

near36,000. So it’s not seeing any huge changes in that we’ve of course have our friend the Dow Jones here which is doing well. We we have the here the NASDAQ, which is doing well. So these are stocks stock markets and and those are extremes the s&p 500 stocks themselves doing well but they are only one part of the economic picture here. This series here is gold. Gold is a counter indicator. So generally speaking, when gold goes up

people’s confidence the economy’s going down. If we look back here in in 2000, from 2008 to around 20 to 2010, 2011

we see the price of gold going up pretty considerably, because at the time that was the great recession that when people like oh, this is you know, things are not going well and as a result, people bought a lot of gold and since then you had a nice downward trend gold

Prices through about 2016. And then they started to go back a little bit upwards. Not not hugely, but this gives an indicator that people don’t think the economy is as good as it was in the period for about 2012 to 2016, right, Ben, we see

this indicator here, the Las 125 this is median weekly earnings gonna see a huge change. So that’s possibly going we see mortgage rates slowly taking up but not again, not not significantly,

right, that’s not mortgage that CPI that’s inflation essentially and inflation staying relatively constant. We do see a tick up here this is the price of coffee. So

one of the things you learn to look at when you’re looking at economics is economic indicators is what are the individual

What did the individual metrics What do they tell us? So if we look at

This price of coffee here price a coffee is a household thing is it’s a it’s a general commodity and we see here the press coffee dropped obviously during the recession and then has has gone ups and downs. It is one of the many indicators you look at to see. Yeah. Is economy doing well can

is that agricultural product doing well and it’s it’s doing okay again we saw the price go up and then it’s it’s took a dip in the in 15 and now it’s back heading upwards.

This series here this painted this, I guess pink is

the Case Shiller home prices. So we saw a dip in home prices when

in the Case Shiller index during the Great Recession that has since come back up. So from a real estate perspective, the real estate market is still in pretty good shape.

We see this yellowish line here. This is

rough rice. So which is again another agricultural commodity that is starting to come back up.

When you see agricultural stuff, particularly food stocks going up, that means life gets more expensive for the average consumer. So that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s good for the, for the farmer who’s growing it not as good for the the person who’s buying it. So we do see a little bit of pricing pressure there. We see the price of wheat is going up and down, but mostly downwards since about 20 minutes since 2012, and then starting to come back up,

we see the Chicago Board of exchange that index that’s another economic index that wants to be going up reasonably well. This one here is the price of Brent crude oil. And again, when when the price of oil goes up, that means that life gets more expensive for people. And so we saw obviously

from 2012, there’s a good stretch when I told 2014 when prices were reasonably high, and then the price of gasoline and oil went down pretty significantly in 2016 and as sensitive

edging its way back up. So in the last year and a half or so we’ve seen gasoline or the oil and all of its derivative products, including gasoline get more expensive over time. And that is obviously a bad thing because it is it impacts your wallet. If we look at gasoline itself gasoline itself is this line here and again we see that that upward ticking as the price of gas keeps going up that’s going to exert a a downward pressure on people’s wallets which in turn makes them less likely to spend on other things this series here this is the Vics This is the Chicago Board of exchange the the volatility index, generally speaking, like we see a very high Vic’s in 2007, 2008.

And we see these spikes here. This is this was the great recession this was a shock after shock to the market and then from about 2012 through really through 2015. It was a reasonably calm quiet period that

2016, 2017 it really wasn’t until this year that we saw this increase in volatility. So this is a little bit concerning because there is increased volatility in the market

again, is a huge No it’s not. It’s nowhere near 2017, 22,007 2008

levels, but it is significantly higher than it was in the past few years. So that is an object of some concern. The you six rate which is total under employment is been on a nice, slow, steady decline. We’d like to see that. underemployment is all unemployed, plus all full time working as part time plus all discouraged workers out of the market. So

generally speaking, the more the less total underemployment the better the economy is doing, because that indicates that people are finding work now when

when you decompose unemployment, you want to look at those three different baskets separately. You want to look at unemployed which means people are out of a job or actively looking for work you want to see full time working as part time separate.

Because that shows that people are having time finding the work that they are better suited for. and discouraged workers, people dropping off labor force it’s not in this chart but that’s something that is important to take a look at because the total number is a lagging indicator. It takes a while for economic shocks to be to recover and there is always some structural unemployment particularly as technology starts to take away some jobs so but this one right for right now. Good number things are going well, on the unemployment front mortgage rates, mortgage rates are holding reasonably steady. They they took a bump up in October of 2016 but then have

are slowly increasing but again, not hugely and certainly not to where they were as of there are 5% right now

we see this is the these two indicators here are the cause of a lot of these articles. We see the one month of three month Treasury yields narrowing and going up

treasury bonds are a place where people go to invest money safely. If they think that the economy is in trouble, a treasury bond is a safe bet, you’re not going to lose your money in it, because it’s guaranteed by the US government.

What we see here, these The, the yield curve on these two is getting closer, which means that people think that the short term which is the purple line here and the the long term are about the same value. Generally speaking, you want to see the short term lower than the long term because people feel like there’s there’s no short term risks, they don’t need to you really use that short term savings savings instrument the longer terms is how they save money, you need to protect it for safety when the to get closer. People are getting more uncertain and this really changed in in early 2016 is when you saw that curve start to flatten that that gap between those who get an hour an hour and it’s been narrowing for a while now. So there is some concern there again, not necessarily huge

The last series is that the TED spread

or the TED rate, which is not really a going issue anymore, extraction, remove that because

the library rate itself is gone thanks to a whole bunch of monkeying around by banks

so when we put all these together is there a cause for concern? Is there a cause for is their belief that that recession is imminent? Absolutely not. There’s nothing here it says recession is imminent is there concern yes some the Vics being unusually high relative to the last few years is a cause for concern. The stagnant wages is a good cause for concern. The price of gasoline and the price of oil going up is a concern because that directly takes money out of people’s pockets, the yield curves and that’s okay, unemployment is still low. The fact that Case Shiller home prices are still on the rise and that Morgan

rates are are slowly taking up but not rocketing up those are all indicators that things are reasonably stable so the the economy for right now is stable but it’s worth looking at these indicators at least once a quarter if not every month to get a sense put your finger on the pulse and get a sense of what’s going on the economy things I would think are are more important look at the price of gold keep an eye on it that’s important when you look at the price of energy keep an eye on it because those are the energy in particular is going to take a can take a huge bite out of people’s wallets and look at median wages and and and how people are getting paid if we don’t see wages increase as employment decreases. That means something’s not right I mean some days there’s structurally some problems in the market and that’s that’s worth taking a look at because it means that the the gains that you see in stock market are not translating into household income. And if people don’t have money to spend then the long term

Long trial look for companies is not good because customers can’t buy things. So no recession right now keep an eye on some of these indicators for what could be changing and, you know, play play things I would say moderately conservatively right now and again, I should probably disclose. I haven’t. No way a financial planner. I’m a marketing guy. I’m a data science person. I am not an economist by any means. But I do enjoy this as one of my hobbies.


keep that in mind for right now from looking at this data for the last 10 years. Not a huge concern right now. So great question. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter and I’ll talk to you soon. Take care if you want help with your company’s data and analytics. Visit Trust Insights calm today and let us know how we can help you.

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