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Recent conversations about the global economy and markets have been defined by a set of recurring questions. While there are many moving parts that are difficult to capture in a single clear picture, it is worth attempting to bring some of the biggest issues into better focus.

The first question is straightforward: Is a recession looming? With authoritative growth forecasts like those from the International Monetary Fund having been revised significantly downward, and likely to be downgraded further, there is good reason to worry. But a global recession — defined as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product growth — remains unlikely, though a major shock, such as a dramatic expansion of conflict or a sudden and significant disruption in a key market like energy, could change this outlook.

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