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Recession May Loom for Next U.S. President No Matter Who That Is

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Rubenstein: Next President Likely to Face Recession

Talk about a poisoned chalice. No matter who is elected to the White House in November, the next president will probably face a recession.

The 83-month-old expansion is already the fourth-longest in more than 150 years and starting to show some signs of aging as corporate profits peak and wage pressures build. It also remains vulnerable to a shock because growth has been so feeble, averaging just about 2 percent since the last downturn ended in June 2009.

"If the next president is not going to have a recession, it will be a U.S. record," said Gad Levanon, chief economist for North America at the Conference Board in New York. "The longest expansion we ever had was 10 years," beginning in 1991.

The history of cyclical fluctuations suggests that the "odds are significantly better than 50-50 that we will have a recession within the next three years," according to former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, puts the probability of a downturn during that time frame at about two in three.

The U.S. doesn’t look all that well-equipped to handle a contraction should one occur during the next president’s term, former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder said. Monetary policy is stretched near its limit while fiscal policy is hamstrung by ideological battles.

Previous Decade

This wouldn’t be the first time that a new president was forced to tackle a contraction in gross domestic product. The nation was in the midst of its deepest slump since the Great Depression when Barack Obama took office on...


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