A Rolling Recession Is Roiling Lots of Industries

Wall Street is growing more confident that there won’t be a recession. But one thing that stood out for me from otherwise decent-second quarter earnings is the number of executives claiming their industries are already in recession.

There are sector-specific slumps in manufacturing, chemicals, cardboard boxes, freight, tech/electronics, residential and commercial property, mergers & acquisitions, and advertising. “Maybe the country is not in a recession, but real estate is,” Jordan Kaplan, boss of US property-investment firm Douglas Emmett Inc. said last week. “Our industry has been in recession and still is,” Jonathan Johnson, chief executive officer of online furnishings retailer Overstock.com said. “I don’t know that we’ve ever seen freight demand fall this far, so far and for so long, without an accompanying economic recession,” David Jackson, the boss of Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. told analysts.

If the list of struggling industries gets any longer, we may still get a full-blown recession – definitions vary but I’m referring to protracted contraction in economic activity across the economy.

For now, though, conditions match the description of a rolling recession, which is when various parts of the economy shrink at different intervals.

Industry Divide