Are We in a Recession? 7 Analysts Discuss Economic Crisis 2024

As we are living in economically turbulent times, there is one burning question on investors’ minds right now: Are we in a recession?

The answer depends on where they live. Some parts of the world slipped into a recession last year, while others are struggling to avoid economic problems.

But how do analysts see the coming months, and when will the economy recover in the regions that have already been adversely affected?

Here, we look at which countries could see their economy crash and whether there will be a US recession in the coming months.

Key Takeaways

  • The UK and Japan are both technically in a recession after suffering two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
  • More than half of chief economists expect the global economy to weaken in 2024, according to the World Economic Forum.
  • Companies are increasingly confident that a soft landing is in prospect for the global economy, according to a report by Oxford Economics seen by Techopedia.
  • Some analysts believe Germany will be the next country to enter a recession.
  • Analysts and fund managers insist it’s still possible to make money during a recession.

Recession News: How Do Things Stand?

More than half of chief economists expect the global economy to weaken in 2024, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.

“Uncertainty continues to be the name of the game for the economy in 2024,” it stated. “For some economists, the global economy still looks rocky and could weaken further over the next year.”

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The study pointed out that these “clouds of uncertainty” over the economic outlook had been a recurring theme over the past year. It added:

“With global economic activity remaining slow, financial conditions remaining tight and geopolitical tensions growing, much of the volatility is likely to remain this year.”

Global Economic Prospects
Source: World Economic Forum

Are We in a Recession?

Some Countries Already Hit Problems

But has the economic collapse predicted already happened in some markets? Are we in a recession right now?

The answer is yes if you live in either the UK or Japan, as both have suffered an economic recession in recent months.

The UK’s real gross domestic product (GDP) fell 0.3% in the fourth quarter (October to December) of 2023, following a 0.1% drop between July and September, according to official figures.

While two consecutive negative quarters is technically a recession, it’s difficult to have a rigid, formal definition, according to Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics production and analysis at the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

He pointed out:

“If an economy shrinks by 0.1% for two quarters running, but in the quarters either side grows strongly, is this really a recession or perhaps just a lack of GDP growth for particular one-off reasons?”

Japan, meanwhile, unexpectedly slipped into recession at the end of 2023 as its GDP shrunk for two straight quarters. It subsequently lost its position as the world’s third-largest economy to Germany.

Real GDP Estimates
Source: Office for National Statistics

Is a Recession Coming?

What Do Businesses Think?

Companies are increasingly confident that a soft landing is in prospect, according to the Global Business Sentiment Index from Oxford Economics.

The study found they expected global growth to remain relatively stable over the coming year – in contrast to how they felt three months ago in the aftermath of the Hamas attack on Israel.

Jamie Thompson, head of macro scenarios at Oxford Economics, said businesses had become less concerned over downside risks to the global economy.

“Respondents on average perceive a 7% probability of global recession in 2024, down from 18% in October,” he wrote. “They also see only a minimal chance – less than 1-in-100 – of an economic slump on the scale experienced in 2009 during the global financial crisis.”

Their views appear to be backed up by the statistics, with global growth projected at 3.1% in 2024 and 3.2% in 2025, according to the International Monetary Fund.

World Economic Outlook Growth Projections
Source: International Monetary Fund

What Do Analysts Think?

But what are the views of analysts, economists and fund managers when they are asked: will there be a recession across the world?

There is also the question of whether they’re expecting a full economic collapse or a silent recession, which is when the stock market is stable, unemployment is low, but people are still financially struggling.

Adam Vettese, market analyst at eToro, believes Japan and the UK falling into recession has fuelled concerns about global growth while being a “double-edged sword” for investors. He said:

“On the one hand, we have confirmation of the tough environment in which companies are operating, but also heightened expectations for looser monetary policy.”

Germany “On Track” for Recession

James Yardley, senior research analyst at FundCalibre, believes more countries will be affected by economic problems over the coming months.

He told Techopedia:

“Germany is on track for a two-year recession. Europe as a whole very narrowly avoided a recession but is essentially stagnant.”

He also pointed out that China faced problems.

“While they are coming out with aggressive growth targets, everyone knows their economy is very weak at the moment,” he said.

Is the US in a Recession?

Of course, many investors have asked: is the US in a recession – or is it likely to experience one over the coming months? Not according to Ben Yearsley, director of Fairview Investing.

“It feels like the US has entirely avoided the recession predicted by virtually every economist,” he said. “Employment remains strong and markets are flying, with the only question being, will the Fed keep rates too high for too long?”

Yearsley is relaxed about the global outlook.

“Jobless numbers aren’t rising at any great level therefore it’s a question of whether high interest rates are doing any damage – and they’re not at the moment,” he said. “The biggest concern on the horizon is huge levels of government spending. Should we have such large deficits in a reasonably robust economy, especially the US?”

Buoyant Stock Markets

Stock markets remained buoyant in February, pointed out Guy Wagner, chief investment officer (CIO) of Banque de Luxembourg Investments, the asset manager.

“Continued robust corporate earnings, the resilience of the US economy allaying residual fears of recession, and the continuing hype surrounding the artificial intelligence theme following Nvidia’s again stunning results triggered new record highs for several indices and leading stocks,” he said.

The best tech stocks, including some of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ companies led by Nvidia, showed a resilient performance in the last 12 months.

Buoyant Stock Markets
Tech Stocks 1-Year Performance. Source: TradingView

 

Ed Monk, associate director at Fidelity International, suggested investors “tune out the noise” as to whether or not we’re in a recession. He said:

“History shows short-term economic ups and downs have little to do with performance in the stock market. Markets tend to be forward-looking, and investors will already be seeing past data on recent economic performance.”

Make Money in a Recession

However, the good news is that investors can still make money during a recession, according to Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell.

“Investing in high-quality companies with strong balance sheets is a good start,” she told Techopedia. “Those businesses will be in prime position to take advantage of weaker competitors during a downturn, either by grabbing market share or through a spot of smart M&A activity.”

The global economic outlook, she pointed out, was “murky at best” with investors juggling concerns about recessions, potential political shifts, and geopolitical unrest.

“Good companies can start to look cheap, and investors can bag themselves some tasty bargains as long as they think strategically, have a plan and don’t just follow a pack driven by emotions,” she added. “Remember, a lot of bad news has already been priced in.”

Focus on Quality Companies

According to Craig Brown, senior multi-asset investment specialist at Rathbones, a focus on quality can help to avoid companies that may come under more strain.

These problems, he told Techopedia, could include higher indebtedness, thin margins with little defensibility, or products that customers find easy to dispense with during tough times.

“We want companies which can grow their market share during a recession as the weaker peers falter,” he said. “This does not mean high-quality companies won’t see a share price fall during bear markets, but it does provide greater comfort that the business is better positioned to weather an economic storm and come out of the other side in an even stronger position.”

The Bottom Line

It’s not straightforward to answer the question of whether we are in a recession. There are too many variables at play.

Headlines were screaming: ‘Recession 2023’ for most of last year, but most of these worst-case scenarios didn’t materialize.

So far, only the UK and Japan and entered a technical recession, meaning they have suffered at least two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

However, many analysts and fund managers are optimistic about prospects and believe that any downturns are likely to be relatively short-lived.

FAQs

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Rob Griffin
Financial Journalist

Rob is a seasoned journalist with over three decades of experience spanning across business and finance journalism. Before embarking on a freelance career in 2002, he contributed his expertise to the business desks of notable publications such as the The Guardian, Yorkshire Post, Sunday Business (now Business Post), and Sunday Express. Throughout his freelance journey, Rob has been a regular contributor to a wide range of national newspapers, consumer magazines, trade publications, and websites. His work has appeared in titles such as The Independent, Citywire, Daily Express, FT Adviser, and Sunday Telegraph, covering an array of subjects from market trends…