Fisher: Overlooked Indicator Shows Recession Unlikely

Kenneth Fisher says the U.S. isn’t headed for a recession, and a big reason for his confidence is one you might not expect: iron ore prices.

“Particularly in recent years, iron ore prices have tracked the economy well — more than most commodities because, thanks to the lack of exchange-traded spot and future prices, there’s not much noise from speculators,” Fisher writes for Interactive Investor. “Plot iron ore prices, and you see moves are very coincident — they rise when the economy’s growing and fall sharply when it slows or shrinks.”

Iron ore prices also don’t have “big countertrend” movements, Fisher says. “They fall until they hit a relative bottom — no corrective wiggles,” he says. “When they turn up, it’s the same. Iron ore prices rise fairly steadily until reaching a relative peak. When they turn up, that’s good confirmation the economy is also reaccelerating. And that just happened.”

Fisher says iron ore prices peaked shortly before the global economy tanked in 2008, and bottomed in April 2009 — shortly before the global economy turned upward. And its price has also hit relative peaks and bottoms in line with the corrections of the past two years, he adds. It turned up again in November, he says.

“I see no reason the recent iron ore price surge is any different this time,” Fisher says. “Which means the US is reaccelerating when the world overall is too. The eurozone is a slow spot, but the larger world pulls the smaller troubled spots along. And if there’s no global recession, there’s little reason to fear a new global bear market is ahead. Be bullish.”