The economic reports from the first quarter are starting to roll in and the news is not good. Although some data may be adjusted, the consensus is that the U.S. economy shrunk in the beginning part of 2015. The recently released April numbers are telling a similar story, leading some economists to start hinting that the U.S. may be entering a recession.
Business Insider recently quoted an email received from a noted bond traded that read: “Retail Sales is very disappointing. It looks like the U.S. is perhaps entering another recession. Again, it’s hard to blame this data on poor weather conditions. Fed on hold for the balance of the year is my call.”
Obviously this email represents the personal opinion of one bond trader, but according to reports, this is a commonly held view at the moment. Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid released a similarly dire statement, but danced around the “r word” (recession). Yahoo! Finance reports Reid as saying:
“It’s not infeasible that the U.S. economy will have shrunk in H1 2015. This is perhaps not the most likely scenario but with Q1 likely to be revised down to around -1.0% and with Atlanta Fed GDPNow forecasting +0.7% for Q2 the it’s a distinct possibility. The street is still around 2.5% for Q2 but we probably need some decent hard data soon to justify it.”
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Reid did a nice job of providing a very political response regarding a very delicate subject. It does not take an expert to read between the lines, however, that he is concerned about what he is seeing. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth and Reid is obviously pointing out that even if the U.S. does not technically meet that criterion, it will at least come dangerously close.
At least one forecasting center has already predicted an economic crisis in 2015. The Jerome Levy Forecasting Center released a report back in October stating, “Clearly the direction of most of the recent global economic news suggests movement towards a 2015 downturn.”
Bloomberg dug deeper into this report to look for the basis of the prognostication and found that “Levy argues the U.S. and many advanced economies still have balance-sheet excesses exposing them to renewed financial crisis. There is limited room for policy makers to reverse any slump, and low inflation risks tipping into deflation in many parts of the world.”
As it becomes more and more difficult to find any positive news about the immediate future of the economy, investors are going to be searching for safe-havens in order to protect themselves. Most likely these savvy investors will start to shift their investments to precious metals, the most popular of which has been physical gold.
Physical gold has historically increased in value during economic downturns since it is not tied to the value of the U.S. dollar or to the stock market. Many experts will advise that you should have a percentage of a portfolio invested in physical gold to hedge against market drops and inflation.
With hard data starting to come in confirming that the economy looks to be in trouble, it continues to make sense for investors to truly start diversifying by putting some of their money in other places outside the stock market.