by Charles Cheng, CFA
Talk of recession has come back, following weak global equity markets and the negative US GDP results in Q1 2022, and earlier yield curve inversion. According to Google US search data, news references for recessions is at its third highest levels since 2008, following the 2020 coronavirus panic and 2019 trade war scares. Is this just hype or is there something really to be concerned about?
在全球股市疲軟和 2022 年第一季度美國 GDP 負增長以及早些時候的收益率曲線倒掛之後，關於衰退的討論又回來了。 根據谷歌美國搜索數據，繼 2020 年新冠病毒恐慌和 2019 年貿易戰恐慌之後，經濟衰退一詞的新聞搜索量已達 2008 年以來的第三高。 這只是炒作還是真的有什麼值得關注的？
1) What makes a recession so concerning for investors?
A bear market is defined as a market decline of over 20 percent. Since 1960 there have been 10 bear markets in the US, 6 of which have been accompanied by economic recessions. If it’s possible to have a bear market without a recession, so does it matter so much whether we enter a recession or not?
熊市的定義是市場跌幅超過 20%。 自 1960 年以來，美國已經出現了 10 次熊市，其中 6 次伴隨著經濟衰退。 如果有可能在沒有衰退的情況下進入熊市，那麼我們是否進入衰退有那麼重要嗎？
Yes, on average, bear markets accompanied by recessions last over twice as long and over 50% more severe, measured by the size of the drawdown. A market crash can be caused by panic selling causing more fear in other investors and can be stabilized quickly by government actions, while an economic downturn happens when the economic and credit activity enter a negative feedback loop which is much harder to turn around. Due to this, reducing positions during a market crash without a recession is more risky in terms of opportunity costs on the upside than during one with a recession.
是的，平均而言，伴隨著經濟衰退的熊市持續時間是一般的兩倍之多，而且以跌幅規模來衡量的話嚴重程度要高出 50% 以上。 市場崩盤可能是由於恐慌性拋售導致其他投資恐懼而跟進，但可通過政府行動迅速穩定下來。 而當經濟下滑時，信貸活動進入更難扭轉的惡性循環。 因此，在沒有衰退的市場崩盤期間減少頭寸的風險更大～以機會成本來計的話。
Bear markets & the S&P 500 Index
|Year||Months||Max drawdown* (%)||Recession?|
Source: Clarity Investment
2) Are we entering a new recession now?
A recession is technically defined as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction. With GDP growth at -1.4% in the US and China slowing down due to lockdowns, is there is risk of a global recession in the near term?
經濟衰退在技術上的定義是國內生產總值連續兩個季度收縮。 鑑於美國GDP 負增長1.4%以及中國的封城政策，短期內是否會存在全球經濟衰退的風險？
While the US GDP number did come in lower than expected, the fact that it was negative is not as alarming as it sounds. The major negative impact was from net exports and a reduced pace of inventory accumulation from a high base in Q4 2021, both of which were likely affected by supply chain related issues. GDP growth in Q4 2021 was a very high 6.9%, 5.3% of which were added by inventory accumulation. Inventory accumulation remained high in Q1 2022, but the rate of accumulation slowed down which turned into a drag on GDP.
雖然美國 GDP 數據確實低於預期，但數值為負數的事實並不像聽起來那麼令人擔憂。 主要的負面影響來自出口淨值和 2021 年第四季度高基數的庫存積累速度放緩，而這兩者都可能受到供應鏈相關問題的影響。 2021 年第四季度的 GDP 增長非常高，達到 6.9%，其中 5.3% 是由庫存積累增加的。 2022 年第一季度庫存積累仍然很高，但積累速度放緩，這對 GDP 造成了拖累。
Meanwhile, personal consumption continued to be positive and job growth was robust. These are all things that point to a growing economy, not a recessionary one. For Q2 2022, economists are forecasting 2.5-3% growth. Of course, downside risks do remain for the rest of the year and going into next year, with the private technology companies finding it harder to raise funding to sustain their businesses and continued worldwide supply issues from war and COVID lockdowns.
同時，個人消費繼續向好，就業增長強勁。 這些都表明經濟正在增長，而不是衰退。 對於 2022 年第二季度，經濟學家預測經濟增長為 2.5-3%。 當然，由於一些私營科技公司如今很難籌集資金來維持其業務，以及戰爭和 新冠疫情封城導致的全球供應問題持續存在，今年剩餘時間和明年的經濟下行風險仍然存在。
3) How should investors prepare for recessions?
Given the difficulties of accurately forecasting a recession in a timely manner, investors should plan as if a recession is equally likely to occur anytime or to not occur at all. From the infrequency of recessions actually occurring, it is much easier for one to falsely predict a recession that won’t actually happen and then miss out on upside returns. A robust investment portfolio should be invested enough to earn the desired levels of return over the long term while not taking on so much risk that one would be forced to sell positions unexpectedly in the event of a crash or recession. If you do plan to make selling during or before an impending recession as part of your investment strategy, the most important thing is to also have a solid plan to raise your investment exposure back to desired levels regardless of whether you were right or wrong.
鑑於準確預測經濟衰退的困難性，投資者應該假設經濟衰退隨時可能發生或根本不會發生。 由於實際發生經濟衰退的頻率很低，人們更容易錯誤地預期一個實際上不會發生的衰退而錯過股市上行的回報。 穩健的投資組合應當是有足夠的投資，以長期可獲得理想的回報，同時又不承擔太大的風險 (如舉債)，以免在發生崩盤或經濟衰退時被迫意外拋售頭寸。 如果您確實計劃在即將到來的經濟衰退期間或之前將拋售頭寸作為您投資策略的一部分，那麼最重要的是您還需要有一個可靠的計劃：不論您對經濟衰退的預期正確與否，可以將您的投資總額再次拉回到原先計畫的水平。
This article reflects the personal views of the author and not that of any firm, and should not be viewed as an investment recommendation.