The world could be headed for a Great Stagnation
For all the chatter about a looming recession in the United States or Europe, it’s important to remember: right now, forecasters don’t expect the global economy to contract.
Instead, we’re looking at a slowdown — and there are signs it could last longer than many economists initially anticipated. The question on my mind recently: Is the successor to the Great Recession the Great Stagnation?
That’s certainly the warning embedded in the new economic outlook from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The group now forecasts that global GDP growth will sit at 2.9% in both 2019 and 2020, the lowest annual rate of growth since the financial crisis. It’s expected to tick up just 0.1 percentage points in 2021.
The OECD said it does not see this sluggishness as the result of one-off circumstances.
From OECD chief economist Laurence Boone: “It would be a mistake to consider these changes as temporary factors that can be addressed with monetary or fiscal policy: they are structural. Without coordination for trade and global taxation, clear policy directions for the energy transition, uncertainty will continue to loom large and damage growth prospects.”
In the United States, growth is forecast to slow from 2.3% in 2019 to 2% in 2020 and 2021. China is expected to post 6.2% growth this year before it drops off to 5.7% and then 5.5%.
In a sentence: “The global outlook is fragile, with increasing signs that the cyclical downturn is becoming entrenched,” the OECD wrote.
Ray Dalio is beating the same drum. The billionaire hedge fund founder told CNN Business this week that he believes the world is dealing with financial challenges on a scale not seen since the 1930s. He doesn’t want to use the word “recession.” But he does think the global economy is headed for what he dubbed the “Great Sag.”
Some Wall Street players are more optimistic. Goldman Sachs sees the drag from trade tensions evaporating next year, and thinks global GDP growth will rise from 3.1% in 2019 to 3.4% in 2020 and 3.6% in 2021. But the investment bank still thinks the “swing in the pendulum” will “remain quite gradual.”
Tesla’s ‘bulletproof’ electric pickup can be broken
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve never seen a truck that looks like this before.
Tesla’s gone and done it: It’s finally unveiled an electric pickup truck, or the “Cybertruck,” after years of teasing a reveal. True to form, it’s not just any truck.
For your chase scenes: The exterior is made from a newly developed stainless steel alloy — the same metal that’s used for SpaceX rockets, per CEO Elon Musk. That allows the car to be “literally bulletproof” against smaller firearms, including a 9 millimeter handgun, Musk said Thursday at the event in Hawthorne, California.
From my CNN Business colleague Peter Valdes-Dapena: “When the truck initially drove onto the stage, many in the crowd clearly couldn’t believe that this was actually the vehicle they’d come to see. The Cybertruck looks like a large metal trapezoid on wheels, more like an art piece than a truck.”
Whoops: Unfortunately, the big talker now is what happened during the demo. A man with a sledgehammer hit the sides of the truck without damaging them. But a demonstration featuring the truck’s supposedly unbreakable metal glass windows backfired when a metal ball thrown at the windows did, in fact, break them.
Shares of the company are down 3% in premarket trading.
Big picture: Tesla has had positive momentum since it posted a surprise profit last quarter. But it needs to maintain that strength as competition heats up. Mary Barra said Thursday that GM will sell an electric pickup truck by the fall of 2021. Earlier in the week, Ford unveiled an electric Mustang SUV to compete with Tesla’s upcoming Model Y. It’s tough out there.
Charles Schwab could become a monster player
Going to zero has consequences. That’s clear from reported merger talks between Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, just one month after both companies announced plans to ditch commissions for online trades.
The potential mega-deal, which could carry a $26 billion price tag, is a sign of the times. Pressure from free trading apps, namely Robinhood, and fresh efforts from behemoths like JPMorgan Chase have sparked a race to the bottom on fees.
The question from investors has been how Schwab and Ameritrade can make up for the loss in revenue. Their apparent response: to get bigger.
“On the heels of all the zero-commission announcements, this was the inevitable next shoe to drop,” Bill Capuzzi, CEO of Apex Clearing, a custodian firm that holds securities for brokerages, told my colleague Paul R. La Monica.
Should a deal get inked, attention will shift to regulators, who may be alarmed that a merger would reduce choice for consumers.