Dalio Says Fed Pivot Means He's Less Worried About Recession

(Bloomberg) -- Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio says there’s less chance of a U.S. recession now that the economy has begun to cool and the Federal Reserve appears less inclined to hit the brakes on growth.

“Because the markets weakened and Fed officials now see that the economy and inflation are weak, there has been a shift to an easier stance,” Dalio, head of the largest U.S. hedge fund firm, wrote in a LinkedIn note. “I have lowered my odds of a U.S. recession coming prior to the U.S. presidential election to about 35 percent.”

About 18 months ago, the hedge fund billionaire put the odds of a recession by next year’s presidential election at more than 50 percent, predicting that a short-lived U.S. growth spurt would trigger a harsh Fed response. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled in January that the central bank was taking a more “patient approach” to rate hikes and other measures as the economy shows less risk of overheating. Powell told lawmakers Wednesday that the bank will announce a plan soon to stop shrinking its $4 trillion balance sheet, one of its tools to influence interest rates.

The U.S. economy grew at 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, cooling less than expected as business spending accelerated, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The chance of a recession over the next 12 months is 25 percent with the next downturn likely to start in 2020, according to Bloomberg survey published Feb. 7.

In other economic predictions, Dalio wrote:

  • The expected “big sag” in the U.S. economy is probably manageable, given the Fed’s tools including a return to quantitative easing
  • Europe’s central bank appears “unable and/or unwilling” to use adequate measures to ease the combination of low growth and low inflation. Japan faces similar low growth and inflation
  • China’s government is using fiscal and monetary stimulus, though it’s not yet enough to restore normal growth

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