For forecasting oncoming recession, from a purely statistical standpoint, we have two interesting data series to follow: the Chauvet-Piger Recession Probabilities and the Term Spread Probability of Recession
The latest release of the Chauvet-Piger Recession Probability indicates that the probability of recession has increased to 0.78%, currently indicating minimal risk of looming recession.
In 2008, Marcelle Chauvet of the University of California and Jeremy Piger of the University of Oregon published a paper titled "A Comparison of the Real-Time Performance of Business Cycle Dating Methods," which outlined two novel statistical methods (most notably the Markov-switching method) for distilling recessionary turning points out of the very same macro data series that the NBER uses to make its cycle assessments.
As for the Term-Spread Probability of Recession, the latest data indicates that the probability for recession appears to be on the rise with late 2016 probability (the probability that there will be a recession by that date) of 3.56%.
Spearheaded by economist Professor Arturo Estrella of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, this method derives a probability of recession from the spread between long and short yields (10-year and 3-month), and is by all accounts the standard for recession probability forecasting.
Keep in mind that a positive indication using this method would require this probability to reach 30% so, while the probability is clearly rising, the current probability is still quite low.
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