Mark Grant: US recession looms—and here’s why

A global recession looms because of depressed oil prices and an economic slowdown in China, market watcher Mark Grant said Thursday. The U.S. won’t be spared because of the interconnectivity of the world economy, he said.

Grant, managing director and chief fixed income strategist at Hilltop Securities, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” his reading of China indicates its economy is growing at only about 2 percent, far lower than the official numbers of 6.9 percent for 2015, which were a 25-year low.

“You’re also seeing this in terms of demand and supply for commodities,” he said, warning especially about the growing glut and slowing demand growth for crude. “I think oil is headed down,” perhaps into a per-barrel range in $20s, he added.

West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, was steady early Thursday, a day after adding 8 percent. Depressed prices were held in check by a weaker dollar and talk of international oil producers potentially meeting to discuss output cuts.

But Grant said any hope that Russia and OPEC can agree on anything is a “pipe dream” and a “fantasy.” Even if they added, he added, it would not make much difference. “America has the capacity because of the change in technology with fracking … to produce much more oil than any nation on Earth.”

U.S. stocks logged their worst January since 2009 and started February under pressure, raising questions about the market turmoil might cause a recession.

The Federal Reserve said after its January meeting it’s watching the financial downdraft, but did not take an interest rate hike off the table for March. The Fed raised rates for the first time in more than nine years in December, and signaled at the time four more increases for 2016. Expectations for so hikes have been scaled down dramatically amid the new year swoon.

Grant said U.S. central bankers should refrain from acting at all this year. “If they do something it would be, [in] my opinion, absurd. I don’t think the Fed will do anything for the rest of the year, given the market turbulence they caused by raising rates.”