Gary Shilling, Merrill Lynch’s first chief economist and founder of a 45-year-old consulting firm, painted a bleak economic outlook for the United States.
Despite Shilling’s accurate predictions in the past, financial markets and the economy have defied his pessimistic predictions in recent years.
Shilling believes the United States is currently in recession. Shilling cited the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private organization that typically declares recessions official a few months after they begin. “I think we’re probably in a recession right now. NBER waits until they get all the data and revisions and everything else. Once they make that call, it’s not going to be useful anymore,” he said.
He also commented on the rarity of soft landings, defined as when the Fed raises its target interest rate and then lowers it without a recession. “Soft landings are extremely rare. There has only been one in the entire post-war period, and that was in the mid-90s. The prediction of a soft landing is to defy history,” Shilling added.
Shilling expressed concerns about overzealousness and preemption by the Fed, which he believes will likely not cut interest rates until mid-year. Meanwhile, he expects the economy to continue weakening and evidence of a recession to mount. The analyst said that “those who think there will be a sudden interest rate cut and the US economy will experience a soft landing will be disappointed.”
Shilling said he does not expect the FED to cut interest rates until the middle of next year.
*This is not investment advice.