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We don’t know if, or when, a recession will hit the United States. 

The business of predicting an economic downturn is far from a precise science – and economists are notoriously bad at it. Because unlike the weather, recessions hit before you know it, only to be known once the data comes out. 

Recessions also don’t happen just to happen. Some major external event needs to happen to trigger a recession. Think, the housing market bubble or the burst of the dot come bubble.  

But there are flashing warning signs across the globe, and the behavior of US bond markets has signaled an economic downturn may be coming sooner rather than later. 

One big concern: there are currently nine major countries on the verge of a recession. For example, economic growth in Germany shrank last quarter – technically only a contraction, not yet a recession. China also delivered disappointing economic news, raising fears that their slowdown could also tip the US into a recession. 

The economic slowdown in China and President Donald Trump’s trade war have created a lot of uncertainty around the globe, and that means businesses are waiting on the sidelines instead of moving ahead with investment.

But the US economy has been doing well, and grew in the last quarter. Job growth has been steady, and unemployment is at a historic low. And the stock market is at a record high, suggesting some degree of investor optimism. So one big concern is whether bad signs overseas will frighten US consumers and businesses into holding off on big moves that will in turn slow the US economy down.