The debate continues about whether the U.S. is currently in a recession. What seems beyond argument, however, is that many of the world’s richest people believe that if a downturn hasn’t yet arrived, it is almost inevitable within the next year.
Although the U.S. recently had two consecutive quarters of negative growth in its gross domestic product — which is how many traditionally define a recession — some economists and politicians say that this time things are different and that the economy has not yet officially slipped backward.
But several billionaires are ringing alarm bells, predicting that a downturn is right around the corner.
Following are some of the richest people in the world who say a recession is more likely than not.
1. Jeff Bezos
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is hunkering down for rough economic seas ahead. He recently made headlines when he posted on Twitter that “the probabilities in this economy tell you to batten down the hatches. ”
2. Jamie Dimon
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has issued a warning to “brace yourself” for a major economic mess.
At a financial conference earlier this summer, Dimon said he initially saw “storm clouds” on the horizon. Then, as inflation grew worse and the price of food and fuel rose, he changed his forecast to a “hurricane.”
“Right now, it’s kind of sunny, things are doing fine, everyone thinks the Fed can handle this. (But) that hurricane is right out there, down the road, coming our way.”
More recently, Dimon said a “very, very serious” combination of factors makes a recession more likely than not by mid-2023.
3. Elon Musk
Elon Musk — the world’s richest man and the CEO of Tesla — said at the Qatar Economic Forum earlier this summer that a recession is “inevitable at some point.”
But Musk since has upped the ante on that forecast. When asked on Twitter how long he thinks a recession might last, he replied, “Just guessing, but probably until spring of ‘24.”
4. Barry Sternlicht
Barry Sternlicht, the billionaire CEO of Starwood Capital Group, also believes a recession is possible — but only if the Federal Reserve continues to hike its target federal funds rate. He recently told CNBC:
“If the Fed keeps this up they are going to have a serious recession and people will lose their jobs.”
5. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook parent company Meta, has warned of an impending recession.
In a Q&A session with company employees, Zuckerberg predicted the recession will likely be “one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history,” according to Reuters, which has heard an audio recording of the response.
6. Carl Icahn
Famed investor Carl Icahn expects that factors such as inflation and the war in Ukraine will leave the economy in a dark place. In the spring, the founder of the holding company Icahn Enterprises told CNBC “there very well could be a recession or even worse.”
In September, Icahn warned that inflation is famously hard to control once it gets loose. He also said rising prices are “terrible” and were a major factor in bringing down the Roman Empire:
“We printed up too much money, and just thought the party would never end.”
7. Bill Gates
In the spring, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said a combination of the war in Ukraine and fallout from the pandemic made for a “strong argument” that tough economic times were on the horizon.
Although Gates didn’t outright predict a recession, he did forecast at least an “economic slowdown.” Gates told CNN:
“I’m afraid the bears on this one have a pretty strong argument that concerns me a lot.”
8. Ken Griffin
Earlier this year, Ken Griffin was hedging his bets on whether a recession is in the offing.
In May, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Citadel said that if the Federal Reserve could reduce inflation to around 4%, the country had the chance to avoid a downturn.
But Griffin has grown much more pessimistic since then. Last month, he told CNBC:
“Everybody likes to forecast recessions, and there will be one. It’s just a question of when, and frankly, how hard. Is it possible end of ’23 we have a hard landing? Absolutely.”
9. Leon Cooperman
Hedge-fund investor Leon Cooperman believes that the economy will fall into a recession next year and that the stock market will suffer as result.
Cooperman is predicting that stocks will be down 40% when all is said and done. He told CNBC:
“I think we’re going to go through a prolonged period of low returns as we try to right the ship.”