Biden says 'very slight' recession possible, downplays risk

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said a recession in the United States is possible but that any downturn would be “very slight” and that the US economy is resilient enough to ride out the turbulence.

“I don’t think there will be a recession. If it is, it’ll be a very slight recession. That is, we’ll move down slightly,” Mr Biden said in an interview Tuesday with CNN.

Yet fears of an economic stumble persist. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its US growth forecast for 2022 to 1.6 per cent and held it at 1 per cent for 2023.

It trimmed its forecast for global growth in 2023 and warned of a worsening outlook for the global economy.

Mr Biden ticked through legislative accomplishments intended to cut costs for US households, such as drug price provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, and said they would cushion the blow of any stagnation or downturn and signalled a distrust in experts’ warnings.

“Every six months they say this,” he said of recession warnings. “There’s so much that’s been accomplished that the idea that there’s something… there’s an automaticity to a recession, and it’s just not… it’s just not there.”

Asked flatly if the American people should prepare for a recession, Mr Biden replied: “No”.

Bloomberg Economics’ recession probability model in September pointed to a 30 per cent chance of a downturn starting inside the next 12 months.

That model-based estimate may even understate the risk, with accelerated Fed tightening making a recession a high probability in the second half of 2023, according to the Bloomberg Economics US team.

Mr Biden has repeatedly said he doesn’t expect a recession, often disagreeing with Republicans or analysts who have warned that a downturn of some measure is a possibility, if not a likelihood or near-certainty.

The president told the Associated Press in June that a recession was “not inevitable”; but since then, the Fed has maintained aggressive rate increases and inflation has remained stubbornly high, narrowing the path for a so-called soft landing that cools price growth without a downturn.

A month later, Mr Biden said he thought the low jobless rate would carry the economy through without a contraction.

“We’re not going to be in a recession,” he said in July. “We’ll see some coming down. But I don’t think we’re going to – God willing, I don’t think we’re going to see a recession.”

The state of the economy is a potential liability for Democrats heading into the November midterm elections, in which Mr Biden and his party are campaigning to hold on to slim majorities in both chambers of Congress.


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