“We’ve got a number of challenges around the world, and central banks don’t have superpowers. They have one power: to ease financial conditions via lowering interest rates,” said Kleintop.

And many central banks are close to running out of ammunition to combat economic weakness with monetary policy. Germany, whose economy is on the cusp of a recession, according to Kleintop, is already offering investors negative interest rates. So low or high interest rates are not the problem that the economy is having.

“The problem started with the trade war and spilled over into the manufacturing secotr and earings,” said Kleintop. “That’s what’s slowing the global economy. It’s not something the ‘Guardians of the Economy’ can address.”

Kleintop pointed towards the OECD’s leading economic indicators index, which indicates that the global economy may be moving towards  slowing or even a recession.

But recession isn’t assured. “Maybe we get a trade deal, a comprehensive one that rolls back the tariffs in place, and Brexit goes smoothly,” said Kleintop. “Maybe the things that slowed the economy begin to reverse. I’m hoping for that.”

Because the global slowdown appears to be synchronized across country, regional and continental lines, Kleintop argued that it can’t be just interest rate policy and issues with one or two economies causing slowing growth globally: It has to be issues like trade and geopolitical uncertainty.

For example, PMI, a measure of manufacturing output, suffered 15 straight months of decline, he said. “That’s the longest stretch in the history of this index, worse than in 2008. This is how it manifested itself: trade slowed down, manufacturing slowed down, so traders pulled back.”

Kleintop also pointed towards leading indicators of global corporate earnings that suggest earnings are now falling, not rising.

Global business leader confidence is also on the decline, said Kleintop. In a global survey of CFOs asking them to predict when the next recession would occur, 70% said that recession would come at some time in 2020 – and 50% of the survey said that the onset of recession would occur during or before the third quarter of 2020 – before the U.S. presidential election.

“Businesses started to pull back, stopped spending on equipment and labor, we had a trade slowdown, a manufacturing slowdown,” he said.