Top Economist Ed Hyman Says Recession is a Long Way Off

Advisor Perspectives reports on Ed Hyman’s presentation at the 2016 MIT Sloan Investment Conference, where he said that despite signs of weakness, the next U.S. recession is probably five or six years away. Hyman, head of Evercore’s economic research team, “has been rated the #1 economist on Wall Street for the past 35 years” in the Institutional Investor poll of investors. As reported in Advisor Perspectives, he said that historical analysis “shows that recessions usually happen around five years after the Fed’s stance on the interest rates change from easing to tightening.” Hyman’s outlook is “cautiously optimistic” and is based partly on surveys of corporate CFOs, as well as a “gradual rebound in segments of the housing industry.” His view of the effects of low oil prices is mixed: he expressed concerns about the negative economic impact of industry contraction, but also “believes that lower energy prices will help delay, rather than hasten, the timeframe for the next recession.” He sees equity markets in a holding pattern and “believes that the market may not move up again until the Fed either restarts quantitative easing or economic momentum increases as interest rates rise.” Hyman characterized the U.S. economy as “the sparkplug that will keep the world economy growing.” However, he warned of “the systemic risks posed by record levels of sovereign and corporate debt.” Hyman said: “When the next recession hits five to six years from now and debt levels are even higher than they are now, I’m scared that it will be the end of the world, economically.” But, he expressed optimism about policymakers’ ability to address the issues: “Now I feel that policymakers around the world are right on the case. They’re watching what’s happening and they’re responding in a reflexive fashion to different sets of weakening data.” He quipped, “I’m sort of relaxed because policymakers are not relaxed.”