Those three U.S. recession indicators – how near or far are those from being invoked?

We wrote recently about three slightly different U.S. recession indicators that have been predictive of the past few recessions. How near or far are those from being invoked?

30-year and 10-year Treasury yield

The 10-year Treasury yield has been greater than the 30-year Treasury yield three to six months before each of the past four. Currently the difference is just 19 bps.

And the 30-year, 20-year and 10-year Treasury yields have almost converged three to six months before each of the past five recessions as well. The 20-year yield already 3 bps higher than the 30-year yield, they have been converging for the past two weeks.


Unemployment rate

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that the US unemployment rate has a hit a new multi-year low four to eight months before the start of every recession since the 1940s. In other words, the economy hits full employment four to eight months before the start of a recession.

The unemployment rate goes up at least 1% and then doesn’t go back down without a recession occurring.

US employers added around 223,000 jobs in May, any number lower than 114,000 would see the unemployment rate rise. We believe we are some time away from this happening. 

US unemployment 1948 to June 2018
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Yield curve inversion

The US 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. Currently the difference is the lowest since the last recession at just 34 bps.

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