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The world is on an 'irreversible path to an economic downturn': Nomura

Scott Gamm
Reporter
Great Lakes of North America at night, satellite view, The elements of this image furnished by NASA.

The stock market is expected to rebound in 2019, but 2020 could be a much different story. That's the assessment from Nomura strategist Naka Matsuzawa in a December 28 note to clients.

“The global economy is already on an irreversible path to an economic downturn,” he wrote. "We do not expect the economy to fall suddenly into a downturn, but to recover temporarily in the second half of 2019 to the first half of 2020 after signs of a slowdown strengthen through the first half of 2019.”

Matsuzawa sees a few market tailwinds in 2019: easing U.S./China trade conflict; stimulus for China's economy; resumption of corporate acquisitions and CAPEX spending; and consumer strength from the slump in oil prices.

This is in the context of Nomura’s argument that a credit cycle typically lasts 10 years. Since the financial crisis occurred 10 years ago, we are nearing the end of the current cycle.

Now enter 2020.

"We think the real economy will enter a downturn from the second half of 2020, and expect the financial markets to price in this economic downturn in the first half of 2020," Matsuzawa wrote.

He doesn't see the next downturn caused by Brexit or Italy's budget issues. Even high debt levels on U.S. corporations isn't an immediate threat, as these debt levels are in-line with past economic peaks, he said.

Instead, debt in China and emerging markets could be the theme of the next downturn, as these countries boosted their leverage starting in 2010, he pointed out.

"When the U.S. adopts weak currency policies in earnest, the main target is likely to be [China's] RMB, which means that, similar to the situation in Japan in the 1990s, there is a heightened risk of a sharp downward shift in the potential growth rate and deflation in China, in our view," Matsuzawa wrote.

The degree to which China's government responds to this via stimulus and other measures, will likely determine the magnitude of the next global economic downturn, he said.

Matsuzawa also noted the dwindling ability for global central banks to help stem the next economic downturn.

Scott Gamm is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @ScottGamm.

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