Over the past few months economists and the public have been riveted by inflation, and understandably so, given that it has hit multi-year highs in many countries. But in recent days, Google Trends has indicated that interest in the word "recession" has been spiking. Geographically, the top source of this interest has been the United States. Singapore comes a close second. In his May Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned of a possible recession next year or in 2024.
Interest in recession has heightened since the US Federal Reserve raised its funds rate by a hefty 50 basis points last Wednesday - the biggest increase since 2000 - and signalled two more hikes of the same size next month and in July. To the relief of financial markets, Fed chairman Jerome Powell indicated that a hike of 75 basis points, favoured by some of his more hawkish colleagues, was not something the Fed's rate-setting committee was "actively considering". So in a knee-jerk response the day the rate increase was announced, stock markets rallied.