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What RV Shipments Say About a Possible Recession

They're down 2 years in a row, which happened before last 3 recessions
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2019 10:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last week saw Wall Street's worst day in 2019—and also saw President Trump telling a crowd in New Hampshire that their 401(k)s will be in far worse shape if Democrats take the White House in 2020. "I don't think we're having a recession," Trump told reporters Sunday per CNBC. "We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they're loaded up with money." CNN has other lines: "Most economists actually say we are not going to have a recession. Most of them are saying we will not have a recession but the rest of the world is not doing well like we are doing." The latest on the economy:

  • Is that really what economists are saying? A poll of economists released Monday provides an increasingly yes-and-no answer: ABC News reports the National Association for Business Economics found only 2% of economists think a recession will happen in 2019, a big drop from the 10% who said yes in February. Those who think 2020 will be the year also dropped, from 42% to 38%. But more joined the ranks of the 25% of economists who predicted a recession will kick off in 2021, with that figure growing to 34%.

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  • Last week all eyes were on the inverted yield curve. This week they're on ... RVs? The Wall Street Journal makes a case for that, reporting that shipments of RVs to dealers fell 4.1% in 2018 and are down 20% year to date. A multiyear decrease occurred before the last three recessions, though the article notes the RV Industry Association is currently expecting shipments to rise 2.5% next year.
  • Washington Post opinions editor James Downie doesn't place any bets on whether a recession is coming, but he writes that "if the economy does go south, this administration"—he calls out National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro—"is acting without thinking." He argues why here.
  • At the New York Times, Maggie Haberman explores what she describes as the president's "conspiratorial thinking": He has publicly accused Fed chair Jerome Powell, the media, and other countries of acting against both him and the economy, and she spoke with sources who say he's also claiming in private that "forces" out to see him lose in 2020 "have been overstating the damage his trade war has caused." Haberman sees a larger purpose: "The claims provide a ready target to help Mr. Trump deflect blame if the economy does tip into recession. But whether they could truly insulate the president ... after he has so conspicuously wrapped himself in the good economic news of the past two years remains an open question."
  • A lengthy Journal piece zeros in on Powell, who "is entering the most perilous stage yet of his tenure" as he works to ward off a recession while also taking hits from Trump. The piece looks at the interplay between what Powell has said and done and what Trump has done, within days, on the trade front.
  • Elsewhere, CNN reports Germany's central bank on Monday indicated it's possible the country could slip into a recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. GDP fell 0.1% last quarter compared to Q1, and the Bundesbank said GDP "could continue to fall slightly" in Q3.
  • Stateside, the AP reports the Dow rose 290 points at the open.
(Read more recession stories.)

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