The Probability Of A U.S. Recession - July 2018

by: Ted Kavadas

Identifies and discusses two U.S. recession probability models.

Shows the current and historical readings of these models.

Compares the models' probabilities to the average estimate from a recent survey of economists.

Provides reference material and links.

Past monthly updates available.

Note: The previous monthly update can be seen in the June 6 article titled "The Probability Of A U.S. Recession - June 2018."

There are a variety of economic models that are supposed to predict the probabilities of recession.

While I don't agree with the methodologies employed or probabilities of impending economic weakness as depicted by the following two models, I think the results of these models should be monitored.

Please note that each of these models is updated regularly, and the results of these - as well as other recession models - can fluctuate significantly.

The first is the "Yield Curve as a Leading Indicator" from the New York Federal Reserve. I wrote a post concerning this measure on March 1, 2010, titled "The Yield Curve as a Leading Indicator."

Currently (last updated July 3, 2018, using data through June), this "Yield Curve" model shows a 12.5063% probability of a recession in the United States twelve months ahead. For comparison purposes, it showed an 11.1182% probability through May, and a chart going back to 1960 is seen at the "Probability Of U.S. Recession Predicted by Treasury Spread." (pdf)

The second model is from Marcelle Chauvet and Jeremy Piger. This model is described on the St. Louis Federal Reserve site (FRED) as follows:

Smoothed recession probabilities for the United States are obtained from a dynamic-factor markov-switching model applied to four monthly coincident variables: non-farm payroll employment, the index of industrial production, real personal income excluding transfer payments, and real manufacturing and trade sales. This model was originally developed in Chauvet, M., "An Economic Characterization of Business Cycle Dynamics with Factor Structure and Regime Switching," International Economic Review, 1998, 39, 969-996. (

Additional details and explanations can be seen on the "U.S. Recession Probabilities" page.

This model, last updated on July 5, 2018, currently shows a .14% probability using data through April.

Here is the FRED chart (last updated July 5, 2018):

U.S. recession probability model

Data Source: Piger, Jeremy Max and Chauvet, Marcelle, Smoothed U.S. Recession Probabilities [RECPROUSM156N], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed July 5, 2018:

Smoothed U.S. Recession Probabilities

The two models featured above can be compared against measures seen in recent blog posts. For instance, as seen in the June 8 post titled "The June 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey", economists survey averaged a 15.83% probability of a U.S. recession within the next 12 months.

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation.

SPX at 2733.58 as this post is written.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.