The world is in turmoil in 2023. Supply chains still haven't fully recovered from the pandemic, Russia is waging war in Ukraine, and inflation is galloping across the globe. In an interconnected economy that heavily relies on software products, tech companies are certainly not immune to these shocks.
In this article, we'll explore how the present recession is impacting the tech industry and look at possible ways to counter its negative effects.
Recession 2023: fears vs. data
Inflation in the US reached a dangerous peak of 9.1% in June 2022, limiting the US dollar's purchasing power and slowing down consumer spending. However, as you can see from the graph, the rate went down to 6% by February.
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by another 0.25% to curb the raging inflation. The 4.5% to 4.75% range is still the highest since 2007, and more hikes are expected. The high cost of borrowing should slow down the heating economy, but in the past, similar actions by the government preceded major recessions.
At the same time, the Bureau of Labor reports that the February 2023 unemployment rate was at 3.9%, down from 4.1% exactly a year ago. This is a reassuring trend, and many experts agree it may signify a "soft landing" for the economy.
So, should we be concerned? And is an economic recession unavoidable in 2023?
To get a good idea of where things are headed, we need to monitor several economic trends. Luckily, there are aggregate indices we can use for a comprehensive assessment. One of them is the Leading Economic Index (LEI), published monthly by The Conference Board.
LEI combines data from 10 critical US economic indicators, such as new orders in manufacturing, prices of common stocks, interest rates, the unemployment rate, building permits, and so on.
Here’s a visual representation of LEI’s fluctuations over the past two decades.
The three deep downward spikes are the 2000 dot-com bubble, the 2008 “Great Recession,” and the 2020 Covid-19 fallout. According to recent data, the US economy is currently on a dangerous trajectory, with key indicators pointing to an imminent recession.
Below are some key facts and figures from the Board's latest press releases that include a number of indexes:
- LEI saw a 0.3% decline in February 2023, but the negative dynamic is slowing down — from a sharper 1.0% drop in December.
- US consumer confidence dropped in February from 102.9 to 106.0 points, reflecting the buyer's reserved stance in light of the ongoing inflation.
- Job growth has been strong in 2023, indicating the labor market's resilience. The Board's Employment Trends Index (ETI) increased slightly in February (118.29 points vs. 118.14 in January), marking a turning point in the number of jobs available in the US.
Even though some indicators do point to a looming recession for the US market, the downward dynamic is not as concerning as with previous recessions. The economic slump in 2023 is unlikely to be as deep or prolonged as the one in 2008. And we probably won't reach the negative values of the 2020 Covid-19 downturn.
Here’s something else to think about: not every industry is affected by a recession to the same extent. That said, the latest developments in the tech market show how sensitive it is to such global events.