New York: Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said the US will have difficulty avoiding a recession, though a severe downturn is not the bank’s “base-case” scenario.
“Europe definitely felt more likely to be heading into a recession than you see in the US,” Fraser, who just returned from a trip to Europe and Asia, said at an investor conference Friday. Still, even in the US, a recession is “not easy to avoid.”
Fraser’s comments added to a flurry of pessimism among banking executives in recent days. Jamie Dimon, her counterpart at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said Wednesday that he sees an economic “hurricane” approaching. And Goldman Sachs Group President John Waldron called the number of shocks facing the economy “unprecedented.”
The data still doesn’t support predictions of looming catastrophe. Friday’s jobs report showed bigger-than-expected payroll gains, and economists see a recession as unlikely next year. A Bloomberg survey estimates a 30 per cent chance of a recession in the next 12 months, up from 15 per cent in March.
Fraser said Citigroup’s traders are dealing with a burst of activity from corporate clients looking to place bets on Group of 10 rates and foreign exchange. But that volatility may soon subside as investors adjust to the pace of rate hikes the Federal Reserve has laid out for the US, she said.
“I think on the market's side it’s been healthy,” Fraser said. “It’s very good volatility and it’s one where we’re in there helping clients manage foreign exchange, manage volatility.”
The New York-based firm’s dealmakers and underwriters have seen a slowdown in activity when compared to last year’s elevated levels. For the most part, Citigroup is seeing deals get delayed rather than pulled entirely, she said.
“We probably have a little bit less confidence about how active the second-half of the year will be,” Fraser said. “You could see some more things coming back, so we’re in a bit more of a wait-and-see mode to see what happens there.”