Recession: Walmart, JPMorgan, GM CEOs talk about possible slowdown

As 2023 approaches and the prospect of a recession looms, company America is getting ready for a slowdown in shopper spending.

CEOs of main corporations together with Walmart and General Motors joined CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday morning to talk inflation, rates of interest, geopolitics and what all of it means for his or her outlooks within the new yr.

Here's what they mentioned:

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan

watch nowJPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon: Inflation is eroding shopper wealth and will trigger recessionSquawk Box

Rising rates of interest, report inflation, geopolitical stress and different components may coalesce right into a recession, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon instructed CNBC.

Savings and authorities help through the pandemic are serving to preserve shopper wallets secure, however inflation and charge hikes are "eroding everything," he mentioned.

The CEO projected that the elevated shopper spending of 2022 is not going to final for much longer, and underscored the chance posed by rising rates of interest because the Fed works to curb inflation.

This yr's geopolitical upheaval, together with the struggle in Ukraine and strained commerce with China, are additionally among the many "storm clouds" Dimon is watching. As the greenback strengthens, he famous that worldwide commerce for one thing like oil will proceed to get costlier since weaker currencies are pressured to match the distinction.  

"When you look out forward, those things may well derail the economy and cause this mild to hard recession that people are worried about," Dimon mentioned. "It could be a hurricane. We simply don't know."

Mary Barra, GM

watch nowThe shopper remains to be sturdy, however we’re planning for conservative 2023, says GM CEO Mary BarraSquawk Box

General Motors CEO Mary Barra anticipates financial headwinds subsequent yr however is just not sounding the alarms for a recession simply but.

"I'm not going to call a recession, that's for economists to do," Barra instructed CNBC. "But right now, we're still seeing a pretty strong consumer."

Even so, the automotive producer is continuing with warning to be ready for a possible collapse in demand, just like what different industries have seen. During the pandemic, when customers have been spending much less on journey and companies, some industries noticed elevated demand and have been caught off guard when that demand later disappeared.

Barra mentioned GM is getting ready "a fairly conservative 2023" cost-wise to keep away from being blindsided, however that she remains to be seeing "pent-up demand" lingering from the pandemic.

Barra additionally expects points issues from the pandemic, akin to semiconductor shortages and strained provide chains, to persist into 2023 regardless of enhancements every quarter.

Doug McMillon, Walmart

watch nowThe U.S. shopper remains to be burdened and underneath inflation stress, says Walmart CEO Doug McMillonSquawk Box

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon doesn't need a recession, however he thinks it could be a mandatory evil to ease inflation for his clients.

"We've got some customers who are more budget conscious that have been under inflation pressure now for months," McMillon mentioned. "Should the Fed do what it needs to do, even if it is a much harder landing than we'd like? I think inflation needs to be dealt with."

Though Walmart remains to be seeing sturdy spending, McMillon has noticed extra conservative spending in sure classes like electronics and toys.

Walmart has seen its pandemic-era staffing points start to subside because it has raised wages, however McMillon famous there's nonetheless hiring stress on the cashier stage. If a tough recession hits, McMillon ensured that Walmart wouldn’t flip to staffing cuts.

"Customers and members need to be served so that'll drive our headcount. Growth will probably continue to go up," mentioned McMillon.

Scott Kirby, United Airlines

watch nowUnited Airlines CEO Scott Kirby: We anticipate a light recession, however journey remains to be setting informationSquawk Box

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby instructed CNBC that his firm is getting into the yr with optimism however that 2023 may see a "mild recession induced by the Fed."

Business journey is having fun with a gradual rebound from its pandemic-era collapse, however Kirby mentioned that traveler demand is plateauing, which could point out "pre-recessionary behavior."

And regardless that the trade is within the "eighth inning" of Covid restoration, Kirby mentioned it’s nonetheless battling issues left over from the pandemic, akin to a pilot scarcity and costly gas.

For now, Airlines have reaped the advantages of hybrid work, with the rise in distant work giving folks extra flexibility to journey, mentioned Kirby.

United nonetheless maintains a constructive outlook as its income numbers proceed to rise. Kirby mentioned the corporate is "coming back to near all-time profit margins."

"If I didn't watch CNBC in the morning – which I do – the word recession wouldn't be in my vocabulary," Kirby mentioned. "You just can't see it in our data."

Lance Fritz, Union Pacific

watch nowThe U.S. economic system is clearly slowing, says Union Pacific CEO Lance FritzSquawk Box

Shipping is slowing down, Union Pacific Railroads CEO Lance Fritz instructed CNBC, an indication that shopper spending is really fizzling out and the economic system is tightening.

"The housing market has clearly slowed and parcel packaging has clearly slowed and we are seeing that in paper and parcel shipments," he mentioned.

Fritz left it as much as the Fed to resolve whether or not placing stress on the patron's pockets – and probably triggering a 2023 recession – is price slowing down inflation. As charges proceed rise, he mentioned spending and demand will certainly come down.

"The Fed is trying to hit all of us in the line of fire with a slower economy and hurting demand. It's not good," mentioned Fritz.

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