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There’s angst about recessions and stagflation in the air, and it’s all seemed a tad premature. Given the strength of consumer demand and the labor market in the U.S., it’s plainly unrealistic to expect a meaningful economic slowdown this year. That at least was what I believed until the publication of the first gross domestic product growth figures for the U.S. in the first quarter, which showed amazingly that the economy was already shrinking. During the post-Volcker era, going back some four decades now, negative-growth quarters have been very rare. This needs to be taken seriously: