The US economy is teetering on the brink of a serious downturn if the Federal Reserve doesn’t put the brakes on its rate hikes, said billionaire CEO Barry Sternlicht.
The central bank has already raised interest rates four times this year and is widely expected to raise them by 75 basis points next week to tame inflation. Earlier this week, consumer prices rose 0.1% instead of the 0.1% fall economists polled by Dow Jones had been expecting.
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However, Sternlicht believes the Fed came in too late and is now too aggressive.
“The economy is decelerating sharply,” the chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.
“If the Fed keeps going like this, they’re going to have a serious recession and people are going to lose their jobs,” he added.
Consumer confidence is terrible and CEO confidence is “lousy,” Sternlicht said. Supply chain issues are being resolved, and stocks are now backing up in warehouses, which will result in huge discounts, he said.
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“The CPI, the data they’re looking at, is old data. All they have to do is call Doug McMillon at Walmart, call one of the real estate guys and ask what’s happening with our apartment rents,” he said, noting that rental growth is now slowing.
The continuation of interest rate hikes will also cause a “big crash” in the real estate market, Sternlicht predicted. The once-hot housing market is slowing fast, with mortgage rates on a 30-year term loan up over 6% — up from 3.29% at the start of the year, according to Mortgage News Daily.
While the Fed’s target is 2%, inflation should be 3% to 4%, Sternlicht said.
“Inflation fueled by wage growth is fabulous. We should want wages to go up,” he said.
“You can pay higher rents, you can buy your equipment, you can go out to restaurants if you have big pay increases.”
Sternlicht believes it is imminent when the “serious recession” will hit.
“I find [in the] fourth quarter. I think now,” he said. “You’ll see cracks everywhere.”
Correction: Doug McMillon is CEO of Walmart. A previous version misspelled his name.