Recession talks ramp up among Wall Street’s biggest names

A growing number of business executives are sounding the alarm on recession risks.

Since JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon warned earlier this month of an “economic hurricane” ahead, other Wall Street heavyweights have publicly chimed in with their own recession calls.

Financiers including hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman, Morgan Stanley (MS) chief James Gorman and Citi’s (C) top exec Jane Fraser have all made remarks about the health of the US economy, though each with varying degrees of worry over what comes next.

Cooperman, the chairman and founder of Omega Advisors, had one of the sharper warnings. In an interview with CNBC Tuesday, he said a recession is likely in 2023 and equities are poised to fall further to a drop of 40%.

BOCA RATON, FL – JANUARY, 24: Leon Cooperman in his home office in Boca Raton, FL on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Cooperman is a hedge fund manager, long-time investor, and founder of Omega Advisors. (Photo by Scott McIntyre/for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“I’m very, very concerned that we have had a toxic combination of fiscal and monetary policies over the last number of years,” Cooperman said. “We borrowed from the future, and we’re in a give-back period now,” also noting that the US was “overdue” for an economic contraction.

The comments come as investors brace for the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision on Wednesday, as the central bank tightens monetary conditions to reign in decades-high inflation. After May’s CPI print came in worse than expected, Wall Street is increasingly betting on a hefty 75 basis point hike, a move that raises the chance of tipping the economy into a recession.

“I think it will be unlikely to go back into a bull market any time soon,” Cooperman said of the stock market. “I think we’re in store for an extended period of time where returns in the equity market will be very modest.”

The S&P 500 entered its first bear market since March 2020 on Monday, at a closing price that placed the benchmark index more than 20% below its recent record closing high from Jan. 3.

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, in remarks this week, said he thinks a recession is on the table, but holds a less pessimistic view than some of his Wall Street peers.

“It’s possible we will go into a recession obviously,” Gorman said at a company investor panel Monday. “There are 50-50 odds now.”

Gorman pointed, however, to bright spots in the current environment: strong corporate balance sheets, consumers in good shape, and a strong labor market, adding that even if a recession does occur, it is unlikely to be deep or long.

UNITED STATES - APRIL 10: James Gorman, right, CEO of Morgan Stanley, testifies during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled

James Gorman, right, CEO of Morgan Stanley, testifies during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Rayburn Building. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said in remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this month that a recession is in the cards – but for Europe, not the US

“There are three [words] right now. It’s Russia, its recession, and its rates,” Fraser said, citing concerns for that supply chain issues and the energy crisis pose to Europe. Citibank is the most globally-facing institution among US big banks.

Over at Goldman Sachs, the investment bank’s president John Waldron said at a conference June 2 that the confluence of the number of shocks to the system appeared “unprecedented.”

Waldron’s comments came just one day after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon kicked off the wave of recession chatter, telling attendees of the same conference to “brace themselves.”

“The hurricane is right out there down the road, coming our way,” Dimon said. “We just don’t know if it’s a minor one or Superstorm Sandy… or Andrew or something like that.”

Wall Street is not alone in predictions the economy may be headed for a trough. Earlier in June, Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk rattled markets when he expressed having a “super bad feeling” about the economy, also indicating the company is expected to trim about 10% of jobs and will “pause all hiring worldwide.”

A flurry of other companies followed suit in slashing their outlooks and cutting their workforce.

On Tuesday, Coinbase (COIN) became the latest to announce layoffs over economic pressures. The crypto exchange fired 18% of its staff in preparation for an “economic downturn,” CEO and cofounder Brian Armstrong said in a blog post.

The same day, online real estate platform Redfin (RDFN) announced it would let go of 8% of its workforce, with CEO Glenn Kelman citing the continuing slowdown in the housing market and a sharp rise in mortgage rates.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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