Mark Zandi Warns a Recession May Come in the Second Half of 2023

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Moody's Analytics' chief economist Mark Zandi cautions that a recession may be on the horizon.

In an interview with CNBC's Andrea Miller, Zandi said a recession did not occur in the first half of this year. Zandi called employment levels the "most important indicator[s]" of a recession. With unemployment at the low rate of 3.5%, he doesn't buy the view that two back-to-back quarters of negative growth alone are sufficient to make for a recession.

But Zandi did warn that he expects layoffs to increase in the days ahead.

"With this kind of low unemployment, inflation’s going to remain a problem," he said, and to address that the Federal Reserve has signaled it will continue to raise interest rates in an attempt to slow down the job market.

Zandi attributed the confusion about whether the U.S. experienced a recession in the first half of this year to the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. "These two massive supply shocks have hit the economy at roughly the same time," Zandi said, which makes interpreting the data about the economy particularly challenging.

The Moody's chief economist said that if rising prices don't ebb “the only way to get rid of that persistent stubborn inflation would be to push the economy into a recession.” If there is a recession, Zandi said it "probably won’t happen until the second half of 2023."

As to preparing for a downturn, Zandi said Americans should "spend, save, invest in the same way that they typically do," but to remain cautious.

“Americans don’t need to run for the bunkers,” he said. “But maybe keep one hand on the bunker door just to be safe and sound.” 

Watch the full interview in the video above.

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