The White House says the U.S. is strong enough to avoid a recession but Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk think it’s already too late


Almost all CEOs expect a recession to hit the US in the next 12 to 18 months. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos say it’s already too late to prevent one.

Brian Deese, chief economic adviser to President Joe Biden, believes the US economy has enough “strength and resilience” to protect it from a recession. said to financial times this weekend.

Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told the British newspaper:

“If we look at where the United States is, two things are clear. One is that we have a degree of strength and resilience in the labor market and in household balance sheets and in business investment. That’s continuing to drive our economy, and that’s really important.

“The second is that we are in a stronger position than… frankly, any other country to navigate through this transition without having to give up those gains.”

Recession warnings galore

His comments stand in stark contrast to a chorus of warnings and complaints from CEOs, leading economists and others that the United States is headed for a recession.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested this week that the US is already in a recession, and that it could last until spring 2024.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also sounded an alarm over the economy this week, warning people to “batten the hatches” amid stubbornly high inflation and continued stock market volatility.

Meanwhile, 98% of CEOs are bracing for a US recession in the next 12 to 18 months, according to the Conference Board’s recently released Measure of CEO Confidence survey.

Barry Sternlicht, the billionaire CEO of Starwood Capital Group, went further this week in an interview with Fortune. He criticized the Fed for using “old data” to attack the economy with unnecessary interest rate hikes and argued that the economy is “crashing hard” as borrowing costs soar, meaning that a recession is now almost inevitable. What’s more, he said, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and his “merry gang of lunatics” are destroying faith in capitalism and leading America into “social unrest.”

Ken Griffin, CEO of hedge fund Citadel, also warned of the deeper impact a recession could have. He argues that one so soon after the pandemic could lead many Americans to believe that the American dream is over.

“Being unemployed twice in such a short period of time, the decline in job skills, professional experience, the derailment of future aspirations, the belief that the American dream cannot be achieved, those cultural and tangible impacts are really devastating,” Griffin said at the CNBC Delivering Alpha Investor Summit this month.

Meanwhile, economist Nouriel Roubini believes a recession will hit the US by the end of the year, and that it will be “severe, long and ugly”.

Amid such warnings, the optimistic messages from the White House can be jarring. Last weekend, Biden told reporters, “Our economy is incredibly strong.”

Addressing complaints about the strong dollar hurting other economies, he responded: “The problem is the lack of economic growth and sound policies in other countries.”

Biden acknowledged the possibility of a recession in a CNN interview earlier this month, saying, “I don’t think there’s going to be a recession. If so, it will be a very mild recession. I mean, we’ll go down a bit.” Then he added: “It is possible. Look, it’s possible. I don’t anticipate it.”

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