(New York)

Some of the best forward looking recession indicators are in the commodities markets. Because they are generally a gauge for demand in the economy, they indicate where things are headed. Well, one of the best—copper—which is utterly ubiquitous across the global economy, is flashing some very worrying signs. Copper has had a very rough summer, but it has been worsening lately despite better share prices. The commodity just hit its lowest price in over a year. China accounts for around 40% of global copper demand. One analyst summarized the situation, saying “Copper is widely considered to be a bellwether for the global economy and so a weak price is cause for concern”.

FINSUM: Copper is partly at the mercy of the big fears in emerging markets, but that does not seem to account for the extremity of the selloff. This does worry us.

(New York)

One the biggest and most conservative asset managers on the street has just put out an ominous warning to investors. Vanguard has just told investors that a near term recession (by 2020) is looking more likely. The asset manager is worried about the flattening yield curve and rising credit risk for sub-investment grade bonds. Vanguard says the odds of a recession in the next six months are 10%, and 30-40% by the end of 2020. The comments are unusual for Vanguard, who has stayed positive on the economy and is usually very conservative in calling markets and the economy.

FINSUM: Our own view is that the chances of a recession by the end of 2020 are much higher than what Vanguard is calling for.

(New York)

There are a lot of bear market and recession indicators to make an investor nervous right now. There are also a wealth pf positive points. However, one area that really caught our eye was an industrial commodity that says a lot about the direction of the economy. Copper is in the middle of a big fall, and according to the Financial Times, the metal “is telling us not to worry a bit: the metal is telling us to panic”. Copper is down about 18% this year, and most of that fall is since May. Copper is used in a wide range of industrial applications across all regions in the world, it is utterly ubiquitous, so demand for it is a good leading indicator of economic performance.

FINSUM: This seems like a worrying sign, but we must say that some of the loss could be because of the trade war with China. That said, the sharp drop in prices is a very worrying sign.

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