‘Remarkable Drop’ in Demand for Goods and Services as Recession Fears Mount in America: S&P Economist

‘Remarkable Drop’ in Demand for Goods and Services as Recession Fears Mount in America: S&P Economist
Prices advertised outside of a grocery store in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, on June 15, 2022. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Naveen Athrappully

The demand for goods and services in the U.S. economy has suffered in recent weeks, S&P economist Chris Williamson said while raising concerns about the country slipping into recession.

The pace of America’s economic growth has “slowed sharply” in June, with “deteriorating forward-looking indicators” setting the stage for an “economic contraction” during Q3, 2022, Williamson, the Chief Business Economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence said in a June 23 press release. The goods-producing sector is “already in decline” and the service sector is “slowing sharply.”

“Having enjoyed a mini-boom from consumers returning after the relaxation of pandemic restrictions, many services firms are now seeing households increasingly struggle with the rising cost of living, with producers of non-essential goods seeing a similar drop in orders. There has consequently been a remarkable drop in demand for goods and services during June compared to prior months,” Williamson said.

Rising living costs and the drop in demand have left businesses “much more concerned” about the economic outlook. The “increasingly aggressive interest rate path” outlined by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the “concomitant deterioration” in the broader financial conditions are also weighing down on businesses, the economist stated.

In addition, business confidence has fallen to a level that would “typically herald an economic downturn,” thus adding to the risk of a recession, Williamson warned. Though price pressures have “peaked,” they continue to remain elevated, he added.

The headline Flash US PMI Composite Output Index for June came in at 51.2, down from 53.6 in May. The U.S. Services Business Activity Index fell to 51.6 from 53.4 while the U.S. Manufacturing PMI fell to 52.4 from 57 during this period.

The 12-month Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflation, came in at 8.6 percent in May, the fastest such increase since December 1981. Food prices rose by 10.1 percent and energy by 34.6 percent. The May numbers followed elevated inflation rates in previous months, with April registering 8.3 percent and March 8.5 percent.

Probability of Recession

During his testimony in Congress on June 22, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the central bank is determined to keep raising interest rates until inflation cools down while also acknowledging that the U.S. economy slipping into a recession is “certainly a possibility.”

The Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points this month, the highest jump since 1994. Markets are also expecting a similar rate hike during the Fed's July meeting.

During an interview with CNBC, Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing warned that the central bank’s monetary policy tightening risks triggering a recession in the United States. Bank of America is expecting the country to be in recession next year. Wells Fargo sees a “mild recession” by the middle of next year, triggered due to the rise in interest rates.