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Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

It was 20 months ago that we told you about the highly unusual dynamic of synchronized global growth — the world’s 10 biggest economies growing at once.

The state of play: Now, we seem headed for the Synchronized Slump — and we had the rise of inward-looking, finger-pointing nationalism in relatively good times. Imagine the world as things go south.

Global economic data has consistently worsened this year:

  • Japan and three of Europe's four largest economies — Germany, Italy and the U.K. — are heading toward recession by year-end, with China growing at its slowest pace in 27 years.
  • The IMF cut its global growth forecast again last month after warning in April that this was a "delicate moment" for the world.
  • Today's N.Y. Times lead: "Markets Shudder as Signs Point to Global Slowdown ... Trade War Dims Outlook in Germany, China and U.S."

Signs of a looming U.S. recession abound:

Why it matters: These inversions have preceded every U.S. recession of the last 70 years.

Other warning signs: 

  • U.S. manufacturing is in recession, as is transportation across all sectors — air, rail, freight and passenger. 
  • Airlines are expecting their worst year since 2014, and the auto industry has laid off more people than it has in a decade.
  • A growing number of businesses are citing "greater risk aversion," largely because of tariffs, as a reason for not making more purchases or investments.
  • Economists say Trump's policies have introduced a real risk of stoking inflation — absent for more than a decade — as retailers large and small say the tariffs will force them to raise prices.

Why things could get worse: The levers that have saved the economy in previous times of crisis look exhausted.

  • Central bankers around the world are cutting interest rates at a level not seen since the financial crisis — but studies show that monetary policy is not as powerful as it once was.
  • The world is already deeply in debt — and democratic institutions are extremely polarized — making government spending more difficult as well.

Reality check: The U.S. economy is still like a "choose-your-own-adventure" game, with plenty of other data points saying the economy is in fine shape. 

  • Consumer spending — responsible for two-thirds of economic growth — is still strong, and consumers haven't expressed the same dip in confidence that businesses have. 
  • The economy has added jobs for 106 consecutive months.
  • Unemployment is near a 50-year low. 

The bottom line: A recession is always coming — it's just that no one knows when. And the mere fear of recession is just as likely to push the economy into a recession as anything else.

Go deeper: Stocks plummet on fears of recession

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Go deeper

Judge temporarily blocks South Carolina ban on school mask mandates

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked South Carolina's ban on mask mandates in schools, ruling that it discriminated against students with disabilities and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Why it matters: As mask bans extend to public schools around the country, parents and disability rights activists have sounded alarm bells. The ruling may signal the outcomes of legal fights playing out across the country.

DeSantis takes legal action against Biden efforts on immigration

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took legal action on Tuesday to try to stop the Biden administration's immigration plans.

Why it matters: The Republican governor, who is running for re-election next year and is possibly eyeing a 2024 presidential bid, is picking a high-profile fight with Biden while re-upping his hardline stance on immigration.

Left: Senate's threat "insane"

The famously press-shy Sen. Kyrsten Sinema speaks briefly with reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) lambasted Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday, saying "it's insane" that "one senator" is blocking attempts to settle on a palatable figure for President Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.

Why it matters: The figure is the linchpin to getting progressive support for the companion $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Khanna's statement reflects broader dissatisfaction among House progressives with Sinema and her fellow holdout, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).