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Recession and Resilience: Looking to Leading Indicators

August 18, 2022

Recession and Resilience: Looking to Leading Indicators

August 18, 2022

Recession and Resilience: Looking to Leading Indicators

August 5, 2022 | Andrew Snyder, Linge Sun, & Nicholas Reade | CAIS

The Fed continues navigating what appears to be an ever-finer line between a hard and soft landing for the U.S. economy. We look past the most recent GDP estimate to leading economic indicators that have historically proven to have greater predictive power to signal turning points in the economy1 in an attempt to better understand the probability of an impending recession.

As recession risks appear to rise, investors may find opportunities in alternative investments to attempt to increase the protection of their portfolios and seek to take advantage of potentially worsening economic conditions.

Strategies designed to enable capital preservation, like protection-focused notes, and those that can provide portfolio diversification, like hedge funds, may be particularly impactful in recessionary periods. In addition, special situations and distressed debt strategies may enable investors to access opportunities that typically arise as companies navigate a challenging environment of higher interest rates and increasing economic uncertainty.

Leading Indicators with Predictive Power2

GDP has been estimated to have fallen for the second consecutive quarter into 2022. Meanwhile, the Fed3 and the White House4 have emphasized that they do not believe the U.S. is currently in a recession and rebuffed the view that a recession is officially inaugurated through two consecutive contractions of GDP.

While the topic of GDP’s contribution to the definition of recession has been a hotly debated topic, it is important to remember that GDP growth is a lagging indicator of the state of the economy.5 To analyze the risk and potential severity of a recession, we look beyond GDP and through the slew of economic data to focus on indicators which tend to change in advance of the rest of the economy—specifically those statistically compelling in signaling past U.S. recessions (Exhibit 1).6

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