The U.S. 10-year Treasury constant maturity yield minus the 2-year Treasury constant maturity yield spread has been a good indicator of past recessions. Yield curve inversion which happens when the spread turns negative and has preceded the last seven straight recessions. The 10-year Treasury constant maturity yield minus the 2-year Treasury constant maturity yield is the lowest since the last recession at only 10 bps.
The reasons aren’t what you think …
We wrote about three slightly different U.S. recession indicators that have been predictive of the past few recessions and have been tracking how near or far are those from being invoked, here’s where we are in September 2018,
U.S. 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, 7-year, 10-year, 20-year and 30-year yields are all converging. Looks like a beautiful chart, just one thing …
Is China selling U.S Government Bonds (Treasury Bills, T-Bonds and Notes) given the trade
war tensions between China and the United States? The simple answer to that is no. Actually, no major foreign country holder of bonds is really selling.
But you might wonder what is going on if you make a chart look like this,
The United States government is likely to run a record fiscal deficit this year due to lower tax receipts. And given deficits since 2001, Federal debt is soaring (chart below). In the immediate aftermath of the last recession, the Federal Reserve was a major buyer of U.S. Treasury bonds.
Since 2014 though, the Fed isn’t really a buyer of Treasury bonds. The question is who is buying federal government debt?
We haven’t written about bond yields for some time. Government bond yields have largely been falling despite Central Banks announcing reductions or end to their bond buying programmes.
The only notable countries where yields are still up over the past year are the United States, Canada, Italy and Emerging Markets.
It wouldn’t appear that the market is anticipating interest rate rises in the short term. We will write about that in a few days but in the meanwhile here are 10-year government bond yields as of 14th July 2018 (figure in brackets indicate absolute 1-year change),
Everyone seems to be focussing on the equity markets recently, but equity markets haven’t really moved much over the past one month. Over the past month, major equity markets have lost between 1.5% to 4%.
The real action is in bonds and commodities. And trade seems to be flourishing too.
10-year government bond yields of major economies are lower by 5% to 40% (in relative terms not absolute terms) in just the past month. 10-year German bonds are down 12 bps over the past month. That wouldn’t sound much but they are down 28% from 42 bps to 30 bps. U.K. yields are down 8%, U.S. yields down 5%, Japanese yields down 40%. Even Greek yields are down 20% over just the past month. Does the market anticipate a pause in interest rate rises? It would appear so.
What a difference a year makes. The Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates thrice (in December, March and June) with a target rate range of 1.75% to 2% now. The Eurozone meanwhile maintains its zero-interest rate policy.