The Recession And Bear Market Of 2016, In Two Charts

Economy recessionJohn Rubino:  Good friend Michael Pollaro just sent a couple of charts that show the US economy heading for a brick wall. The first illustrates what happens when business sales (the green line) turn negative. In the previous two boom/bust cycles, when sales started falling the economy either tipped into recession shortly thereafter or (it was discovered in retrospect) was already well into a contraction.

Meanwhile, junk bond yields (the blue line) start rising before recession hits and then spike during the contraction, as falling sales hit the weakest borrowers hardest, causing a wave of defaults.

Now compare the previous two busts with today (far right of the chart). Business sales turned negative a year ago and are now heading south fast. Junk yields bottomed in 2014 and are now spiking. If history is a reliable guide, the US is either in recession right now or will be within a quarter or two.

There is one difference, however. Heading into both previous financial crises short-term interest rates (represented here by the Fed Funds rate, red line) were above 5%, giving the central bank some leeway to cut rates and thus stimulate new borrowing. But not this time. Instead, short-term rates are zero or thereabouts and the Fed has just begun a tightening cycle.

Business sales junk yields
Here’s Michael’s take:

What is Junk Market getting that broad equities are not getting? Oh yeah, the economy is decelerating and liquidity is being withdrawn. Basic starting point, learned from my years on the sell side: Pay attention to the junk market. That market is much smarter than the equity market.

The next chart shows the causal relationship between new factory orders and industrial production, i.e., the amount of real things being produced by US factories.

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