Here is a data signal most of the market is not paying attention to when it comes to recession forecasting: nationwide capital expenditure, or Capex. Morgan Stanley’s index of capex has shrunk to its lowest level in two years, as the high from the Trump tax cuts wears off for companies and they tighten purse strings. Capex growth is likely to weaken from 11% last year to just 3% this year. According to the deputy CIO of State Street, “Low capex growth is very worrying … You’re starting to see the trade tensions and the macro growth concerns play out in business confidence — companies won’t open a new factory if they think we’re on the cusp of a recession”.
FINSUM: This is a worrying sign but not wholly unexpected given the waning benefits of the tax cuts. However, even though this is expected, it does not mean it won’t hurt the economy.