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Biden concedes risk of ‘slight’ U.S. recession as IMF issues warning


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As banks and international financial organizations forecast the possibility of a recession, President Biden said he didn’t believe it would happen in the United States — but acknowledged it could.

“I don’t think there will be a recession,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper, in an interview that aired on Tuesday. “If it is, it will be a very slight recession,” he added. “Look, it’s possible. I don’t anticipate it.”

Biden’s take came as the International Monetary Fund, a global lender, downgraded its outlook for the world economy and warned of “storm clouds” gathering — among them “persistent” inflation, the fallout from the Ukraine war and a slowdown in China’s property market impacting the global economy.

The chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, also told CNBC this week that the United States was likely to tip into recession “six to nine months from now,” despite at the moment “actually still doing well.” He added: “This is serious stuff.”

A recession is technically defined as two quarters, or six months, of negative growth for the economy. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of U.S. recessions, looks for other signs such as “significant” and widespread declines across the economy including in the employment rate, consumer spending and other factors.

Biden, however, said financial experts were often throwing around predictions. “Every six months they say this,” he said, but it “hadn’t happened yet.”

“We’re in a better position than any other major country in the world — economically and politically,” he continued. “We still have real problems,” he added, but said that recent legislation such as the nearly $2 trillion American rescue plan and Inflation Reduction Act had accomplished a lot.

What is a recession? Your economy questions, answered.

As international head winds continue to weigh on the world economy, the 190-member IMF forecast that global growth would slow from 6% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023 — the weakest growth since 2001, it said Tuesday, except for the global financial crisis and the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The three largest economies, the United States, China and the euro area, will continue to stall,” Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, the IMF’s chief economist, told reporters. “In short, the worst is yet to come, and for many people, 2023 will feel like a recession.”

Gourinchas said that countries accounting for a third of world output are expected to “contract” this year or next. In the United States, he tweeted, rising interest rates could slow growth to 1% in 2023 down from 1.6% this year.

Globally, he said, “inflation remains the most immediate threat to current and future prosperity by squeezing real incomes & undermining macro stability.” He urged central banks around the world to “keep a steady hand with monetary policy firmly focused on taming inflation.”

Biden said he knew families were worried about the rising cost of energy, medication and looking for “breathing room,” with the economy set to be a major focus of the upcoming midterm elections.

U.S. job growth slowed again in September, a sign that the labor market may be cooling from its red-hot peak earlier this year while it remains an area of strength for a U.S. economy bracing for a downturn. The Federal Reserve has also hiked interest rates five times since March, moving at an aggressive pace to curb inflation and balance the economy even as some financial experts warn a recession and financial pain are in store for American families and businesses.

As the Fed fights inflation, worries rise that it’s overcorrecting

As the war in Ukraine rumbles into its eight month, the decision by a coalition of oil-producing nations led by Russia and Saudi Arabia last week to slash oil production by 2 million barrels per day, in a rebuke to President Biden, has also deepened fears of a global recession. The White House said Tuesday that Biden was in the midst of reevaluating the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia following the OPEC Plus announcement.

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