Recession ahead

There are clear signs of trouble on the horizon.

10-Year Treasury yields plunged to near record lows this month as investors fled stocks for the safety of bonds.

10-Year Treasury Yield

The Federal deficit is widening — unusual for this late in the cycle as Liz Ann Sonders points out. We are being prepared for the impact of a trade war: pressure the Fed to cut rates and raise the deficit to goose stocks.

Federal Deficit

Gold surges as Chinese flee the falling Yuan.

Spot Gold

Commodity prices fall in anticipation of a global recession.

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

Are we there yet? Not quite. The Philadelphia Fed Leading Index is still above 1% (June 2019). A fall below 1% normally precedes a US recession.

Leading Index

Volatility (Twiggs 21-day) for the S&P 500 is rising, as it usually does ahead of a market down-turn, but has not yet formed a trough above 1% — normally a red flag ahead of a market top.

S&P 500 Volatility

And annual payroll growth is still at 1.5%. This is the canary in the coal mine. A fall below 1% (from its 2015 peak) would warn that the US is close to recession.

Payroll Growth and FFR

What to watch out for:

  • Falling commodity prices below primary support (DJ-UBS at 75) will warn that the trade war is starting to bite;
  • Falling employment growth, below 1%, would signal that the US economy is affected; and
  • September is a particularly volatile time of the year, when fund managers clean up their balance sheets for the quarter-end, with a history of heavy market falls in October as cash holdings rise.

I tell my clients to sell into the rallies. Don’t wait for the market to fall. Rather get out too early than too late.

Of course I cannot guarantee that there will be a recession this year, but there are plenty of warning signs that we are in for a big one soon.