His prediction was based on current "extraordinarily fragile" business sentiment that was a result of a protracted tariff fight between the two largest economies in the world that started last year. The U.S. and China are now negotiating a deal, with representatives from both countries expected to meet in Washington this week.
"Business sentiment across the globe is extraordinarily fragile," the economist told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday. He added that a survey conducted by Moody's recently showed that confidence among companies was at its weakest since the end of the financial crisis a decade ago.
"Businesses are really on edge and I think it's because of this trade war. And if it's not settled in the next couple (to) three months, I think a global recession is highly likely," said Zandi.