Time for a double dip?
A lousy debt deal, rising fears of a recession, the danger of longer-term stagnation: America’s outlook is grim
THIS ought to have been a good week for the American economy. The country’s leaders at last ended a ludicrously irresponsible bout of fiscal brinkmanship, removing the threat of global financial Armageddon by agreeing to raise the federal debt ceiling. Yet far from heaving a sigh of relief, investors are nervous. Stockmarkets around the world have tumbled (see article). On August 2nd, the day the debt deal was signed, the S&P 500 index saw its biggest one-day fall in over a year, and yields on ten-year Treasury bonds dropped to 2.6%, their lowest level in nine months, as investors sought safety.
It is not all to do with America: the euro zone is a mess (see article) and manufacturing everywhere seems to be slowing. But America’s prospects have suddenly darkened. Statistical revisions and some grim new figures have revealed a weaker-than-assumed recovery that has all but ground to a halt. Once stalled, an economy can easily tip back into recession, particularly if it is hit by a new shock—as America’s is about to be, thanks to a hefty dose of fiscal tightening made worse by the debt deal. The odds of a double dip over the coming year are uncomfortably high, perhaps as high as 50%.