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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

42 mins ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.