By Barlow Mann
The likelihood of another recession is real, but the concerns may be overblown (see this CNN Money article from January 26, 2016). After the Great Recession (4th quarter 2007- spring 2009) a recovery began. It has been relatively weak and propped up by the Fed’s interest rate policy, which changed in December. Even though China and Europe may slip into a recession, the Federal Reserve is still predicting slow growth of the US GDP in the 2% range. A recession is usually described as two consecutive quarters of falling or near zero growth in the GDP. The economists usually do not announce a recession until after this has happened and often it is over when it is announced.
As it stands now the recovery since 2009 has been so tepid that it has felt almost like a recession anyway. If the housing market and a few other areas are relatively healthy a formal recession may be avoided, but few would feel that “Happy Times are Here Again” for the economy.
As far as philanthropy goes, slow growth is better than no growth, and with modest wage improvements and low unemployment, the broad giving base should be steady. At the highest end, wealth reached record levels last year, but some have experienced adjustments due to the falling stock market; others are doing just fine, but uncertainty and fear remains, which could put a damper on giving.
Overall we would expect total giving in America to be approximately 2% of GDP, so overall giving could be relatively flat for 2016.