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A Third of Fund Managers Predict Recession in the Next Year

This is the highest portion in nearly 10 years, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey finds.

Roughly one third of investors say they believe a recession is likely in the next twelve months, Bank of America Merrill Lynch found in a new survey.

This is the highest recession probability since October 2011, according to the firm, which polls fund managers each month on everything from recession risk to allocation strategies. 

The findings align with an analysis from the firm’s economists, published on August 9, which shows that they believe there is a one-in-three chance of a recession in the next twelve months.  

“We now have a number of early indicators starting to signal heightened risk of recession,” the economists’ said.  

The investor survey took place August 2 through August 8, covering 224 respondents who collectively manage $553 billion in assets, according to its methodology. BoA published the results August 12.  

According to the survey, 64 percent of respondents still believe a recession in the coming months is not likely. Investors are worried about the ongoing trade war between the United States and China –  51 percent called it the largest tail risk.  

“As we have consistently noted, expansions do not die of old age, but they can die from a policy mistake,” the economists’ report said. “And we are ripe for a policy mistake today.” The trade war has escalated with several rounds of tariffs levied on Chinese imports to the United States, the report noted, and pointed to hints of an impending currency war.  

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Monetary policy also worried experts. More than half of central banks are cutting rates, while others hint of rate reductions on the horizon, the economists’ report said.  “The challenge is that central banks have limited ammo and it will be a challenge to sufficiently offset the trade war.” 

Amid all of this, fund managers expressed their most positive view of bonds since November 2008. About four in 10 (43 percent) of investors surveyed expected lower short-term interest rates.

“The question now is: does the Fed have enough ammunition to keep the economy on kilter amid the weakening global backdrop and worsening US-China trade negotiations?” the economists’ report said.  

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