Once upon a time, when the market actually discounted the future path of the economy instead of being a lagging indicator to not only underlying macroeconomic conditions…



… or simply frontrunning central bank policy, economists would use it to anticipate key economic inflection points such as recessions and recoveries. Which is also why the recent correction in the market has spooked all those conventional economists who still believe there is a “market” instead of a centrally-planned “wealth effect” policy tool, whose only purposes is to react to every increase in the global $14 trillion central bank balance sheet.

It is these economists, which also include the academics on the Fed’s staff, who took one look at the tumble in stocks in the past two weeks and decided that a rate hike may not be such a hot idea after all. Because if the market is sliding, it surely is telegraphing that not all is well with the economy and therefore tightening financial conditions would be suicidal for any central bank.

So assuming that after being wrong for 7 years about everything, economists are actually right about the market still having some discounting abilities left, what then is the market telegraphing? The answer, according to the Bank of America: the biggest surge in recessionary odds since 2011, which over the past few days have nearly hit a 50% probability of an economic slowdown.

BofA explains:

Recession probability from stock prices shoots higher: The more interesting and difficult question is whether the equity correction is signaling a deeper economic malaise. Equity prices can be leading indicators of recession. Indeed, Michael Hanson has developed a variety of probit models that use financial variables to estimate the risk of a recession. According to his model, the 15% annualized drop in the S&P500 index (over the past six months) is signaling a 47% risk of recession starting sometime in the next 12 months. That sounds fairly grim; however, we wouldn’t take the signal too literally. As Paul Samuelson famously quipped in the late 1960s: “The stock market has called nine of the last five recessions.” Our probit model sends a lot of false signals. For example, in 2011 the model saw a 59% chance of recession (which we argued strongly against at the time).

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