U.S. finance leaders fear a recession right before the 2020 Presidential election. The longest economic expansion in modern American history may be coming to an end. According to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey, 48.1% of U.S. CFOs predict a recession by the middle of next year; 69% of those surveyed are preparing for a recession by the end of 2020.
Duke Professor John Graham stated that CFOs are becoming more aware of an approaching recession due to the consequences of economic and political uncertainty and trade wars on business. “Faced with uncertainty, companies may pause by holding off on spending and hiring. That can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Graham.
Business executives are also concerned about the possible shortage of skilled workers in the U.S and their ability to hire and retain qualified employees. To counteract the shortage of labor, U.S. CFOs are avid supporters of immigration policies, such as offering expedited green cards to allow foreign graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields to work in the U.S.
Government policies and economic uncertainty are also major concerns among executives. The ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute will most likely negatively impact the American economic growth in 2020, resulting in a sharp decrease from 2.6% last year to 1.6%. Many economists believe the protectionist trade policy is the leading risk to the U.S. economy.
However, nothing can be proven yet. These recession prophecies may turn out to be just a scare since the U.S. economy has proven to be rather resilient in the past. The Trump administration may decide to step back on tariff threats to avoid hurting the economy. Regardless of the outcome, the Federal Reserve will continue to find ways and solutions to keep the economy running.