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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There is a 70% chance of recession within the next six months, according to a new recession indicator that examines the economy using a method previously used to analyze the resemblance of human skulls.

What it means: The new indicator comes from researchers at State Street Associates and MIT's Sloan School of Management who applied the principle of Mahalanobis distance to create a predictor of economic booms and recessions they call the KKT Index of the Business Cycle.

  • "This index offers a precise probability of recession or robust growth ... by comparing key variables to the patterns that prevailed during historical episodes," the study's co-author William Kinlaw, senior managing director at State Street Associates, tells Axios.
  • It creates the new business cycle metric by incorporating U.S. data including industrial production, nonfarm payrolls, stock market return and the slope of the Treasury yield curve (10-year rate minus the federal funds rate).

What's happening: The latest reading shows that recession is more than twice as likely as high growth in the next six months. When the probability of recession last reached these levels, a recession occurred 70% of the time.

  • "This level is driven primarily by two factors: weakening industrial production and the slope of the yield curve," Kinlaw says.
  • "By comparison, the unconditional likelihood of a recession occurring in any six-month period is only 17%."

Why it matters: Going back to 1916, the KKT Index has risen "leading up to every recession so that the combination of its trajectory and level provides a reliable indicator of the likelihood of recession," the study finds.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Health

2 federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The Biden administration was temporarily blocked from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for millions of workers by federal judges in two states on Tuesday.

The big picture: The orders, by federal judges in Kentucky and Louisiana, come one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.

54 mins ago - World

Honduras elects first female president

Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro, of the Libertad y Refundacion (Libre) Party, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Sunday. Photo: Inti Ocon/Getty Images

Former Honduras first lady Xiomara Castro is set to become the country's first female president president, after the ruling party conceded defeat in the country's elections on Tuesday night, per AP.

Why it matters: The democratic socialist and her Libre Party have broken a 12-year run for the conservative National Party, which U.S. prosecutors alleged fostered a "narco-state," note Axios' Latinos' Marina E. Franco and Russell Contreras.

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.