Need to Know: ‘Risks of a recession’ are rising, says head of world’s largest hedge fund

Team USA snowboarders now have snagged three golds in Pyeongchang, while fiscal conservatives in Washington won’t give any type of medal to President Trump’s budget.

In markets land, the big question is still the following: Has this beaten-up stock market found a bottom?

“We are far from being in the clear,” warns CrackedMarket’s Jani Ziedins, even as A Wealth of Common Sense’s Ben Carlson cautions that “no one has a clue what’s going to happen next.”

No matter how you’ve played the Dow’s dive and rally, at least you probably didn’t shout anything regrettable from the Davos mountain tops right before the slide. Ray Dalio did exactly that, saying anyone hiding out in cash would “feel pretty stupid”— and so now he’s sounding more bearish as he provides our call of the day.

“The risks of a recession in the next 18-24 months are rising,” writes the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates in a LinkedIn post.

The odds are growing for a recession because we are in the part of the economic cycle where it’s difficult for central banks to get monetary policy right, and this time around their balancing act will be especially tricky, he says. (That echoes his July warning about central banks making mistakes.)

So what did he get wrong earlier this year?

He describes his pre-selloff thinking as follows: “If the spurt in growth in profits (which is good for equities) is faster than the rise in interest rates (which is bad for asset prices) that will be marginally bullish, and if there is a lot of cash still on the sidelines (which there is) that causes one last spurt in equities prices.”

And here’s why equities slumped instead, according to Dalio (who really likes the word “spurt”): “Recent spurts in stimulations, growth and wage numbers signaled that the cycle is a bit ahead of where I thought it was. These reports understandably led to the reactions in bonds, which affected stocks as they did.”

Go here to read the full post from the head of the world’s largest hedge fund, which is shorting Adidas, Siemens and other European stocks as exec Bob Prince sees “a much bigger shakeout coming.”

Read: Here’s the nagging question at the heart of the stock-market selloff

Key market gauges

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH8, -0.41%  , S&P 500 ESH8, -0.34%  and Nasdaq-100 NQH8, -0.36% are pointing lower. That’s after the Dow DJIA, +1.70%  , S&P SPX, +1.39%  and Nasdaq Composite COMP, +1.56% closed higher yesterday for a second session in a row.

Europe SXXP, -0.10% is falling, after Asia mostly closed higher. Gold GCG8, +0.41% is gaining, as the dollar index DXY, -0.44% and oil CLH8, -0.30% drop. Bitcoin BTCUSD, -2.65% has been changing hands around $8,500.

See the Market Snapshot column for the latest action.

The chart

A plan for the S&P 500: The steps in bold have been achieved.

The S&P 500 needs to follow the 10-step plan above to get back on track — and so far, it’s completed just the first three steps, says Instinet’s Frank Cappelleri.

Step 9 is “Make higher highs,” and Cappelleri’s chart below shows how the stock index is still delivering lower highs — a classic sign of a downtrend.

No higher highs yet.

The buzz

Amazon AMZN, +3.48% is laying off hundreds of workers, as the e-commerce giant also continues its nationwide hiring spree.

Bill Gross is auctioning off his rare U.S. stamp collection that’s expected to bring in $9.1 million.

Small-business sentiment has throttled upward, and plans to expand are hitting a record high.

Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar

Walgreens Boots Alliance WBA, +0.00%  — which already owns 26% of drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp. ABC, +0.29%  — wants to buy it out completely.

PepsiCo PEP, +0.67%  , Blue Apron APRN, +2.76% and Under Armour UA, +5.78% have posted earnings ahead of the open.

In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma has rejected his party’s call for him to resign, as lawmakers prepare for a vote of no confidence.

Firearms maker Remington plans to file for bankruptcy.

On the Federal Reserve front, the Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester is due to speak at 8 a.m. Eastern Time.

The quote

Chloe Kim reacts to the score for her first run, which vaulted her into first place.

“I hate crying but I’ll give myself a pass for this one. Thank you everyone for the love! Stoked to bring home the gold.” —17-year-old American boarder Chloe Kim triumphed today in the women’s halfpipe at the Winter Olympics.

Read: Chloe Kim gets ‘hangry,’ grabs gold in South Korea

The stat

Swatch, Rolex and the like fall behind.

Apple shipped 8 million watches in last year’s fourth quarter — more than the entire Swiss watch industry pushed out, note the stat-slingers at Statista.

Random reads

This year for Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, New Orleans has deployed “Gutter Buddies.”

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day: An index tracking the cost of popular gifts shows a 0.9% rise.

Catholic leaders back having your candy today, given that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.

NYC kids aren’t staying home sick because selective schools look at attendance.

“The breakup of big tech should and will happen,” writes L2’s Scott Galloway.

Oregonian pulls 14 worms from her eye in “extremely rare” case.

A virus called “Olympic Destroyer” targeted the Pyeongchang Games.

TV station says a graphic for a satirical segment was mistakenly used again here:

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