By Alan Murray and David Meyer
January 2, 2019

Good morning.

Will a recession hit in 2019? Sorry to start the New Year on a downer, but there are more than enough reasons to think it will — a sinking stock market, a flattening yield curve, declining profits, waning fiscal and monetary stimulus, a slowing Chinese economy, a trade war, etc… As we reported shortly before Christmas, the majority of economists still think we’ll avoid a downturn this year and more likely face one in 2020. Typical is this new report from Goldman Sachs, shaving its growth prediction for 2019 to 2% from 2.4%. But if there is one thing we know for certain, it is this: economists have a uniformly lousy record of predicting recessions. That’s because recessions are usually precipitated by the unpredictable. In any event, I’m more inclined to agree with the Term Sheet readers who responded to Polina Marinova’s survey on the 2019 outlook.

But that pessimism is for the short term only. The most far-sighted business leaders I talk with these days are preparing for an explosion of new business possibilities from the application of data-and-machine-learning-powered technologies, that will goose economic growth for the next decade and more. If a recession hits, it may only be an opportunity for the haves — those businesses who have begun preparing aggressively for the revolution — to widen their lead over the haven’ts.

At Fortune, we’ll spend the year shining a spotlight on these technologies and staffing up to improve that coverage. We’ll also continue to convene communities of business leaders to give them opportunities for sharing best practices. You can find the full rundown of our 2019 events here, but let me highlight a couple of new ones: Brainstorm Finance, focusing on the technological revolution that’s upending the finance world, will be held for the first time June 19-20 in Montauk, N.Y. And the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum will be held September 4-6 at the indescribably beautiful Fuxian Lake in Yunnan Province, China. These are invite-only events, but we make extra effort to accommodate CEO Daily readers, so let me know if you are interested.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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