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US consumer confidence, as measured by the University of Michigan, unexpectedly fell to a 7-month low in August. As the largest component of the US economy, American consumers could determine whether the economy is heading for a recession now that the yield curve has inverted. In the short term, however, this seems unlikely.
Geographically, Europe (and Germany in particular) is showing the most vulnerability as measured by recent readings on business sentiment, manufacturing, trade, and output. In contrast, while the US isn’t going gangbusters, growth is holding up a bit better. Moreover, weakness by sector is variable.
Those expecting a sleepy August for equity markets were probably shocked at the volatility we saw across global equity markets last week, as weak macro data and US Treasury yield‑curve inversion raised recessionary fears. In addition, the prospect of a fresh election in Italy also rattled brittle investor confidence.