At Davos, CEOs divided about recession outlook in 2019

Despite a January survey that revealed most CEOs view recession as their biggest external concern for 2019, some notable business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, are divided about the chances of a global slowdown this year.

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As Wall Street worries about a U.S.-China trade war, an unraveling of Brexit and slowing global growth, here’s a glimpse at what some of the world’s top business leaders have said about a recession while attending the annual meeting in Davos.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan:

Moynihan said during a FOX Business interview that he’s optimistic about the future of the global economy, particularly in the U.S. He noted that 2019 could be the best year yet for growth.

“The confusion in the environment right now is, is it a slowdown or is it going into a recession?” he said.  “Nothing we see says it’s close to recession. Our experts don’t see it and our behavior in the consumers, especially in the consumer-led economy, you’re seeing that grow at 5, 6 percent in January so far...very strong.”

Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio:

Dalio warned on Tuesday during a FOX Business interview that a slowdown in China -- a result of the tit-for-tat tariffs -- would weigh on the U.S. economy.

“I think that people have got to realize it’s going to be a negative of all things on growth,” he said. “Europe has a negative growth and the United States is going to have a negative growth environment. I don’t mean absolute negative. I mean slowing of growth in a material way that could be close to between 0 and 2 percent over the next 18 months.”

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon:

The CEO of the nation’s biggest bank said during an interview with CNBC in Davos that the U.S. economy is like a ship trying to navigate its way through turbulent waters, weighed down by obstacles like the government shutdown, Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and the trade war.

“Eventually that may very well cause a slowdown or a recession,” Dimon said. "I don't know 2020 or 2021, but the range of possibilities is broader and the range of bad outcomes is increasing."

Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman:

Despite slowing economic growth, Schwarzman told CNBC he doesn’t believe the U.S. is on the verge of another recession.


"I don't see any recession. I don't know where that came from the last two months of the year. Consumer confidence is down a little bit, which I think comes from some of the dysfunction, but they are still spending a lot of money," Schwarzman said.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty: 

Rometty didn't directly address whether there will be a recession in 2019, but acknowledged a lot of uncertainty in the year ahead.

"No one likes uncertainty," she told FOX Business. "And we have a number of uncertain things around us. So everyone is anxious to move through a number of these things. And again, therefore, I think you see people planning for contingencies."

Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick: 

Although Lutnick said the economic outlook will soften this year, he dismissed concerns of a recession during a FOX Business interview, adding that the U.S. economy is still in pretty good shape overall.