Bloomberg just called the inverted yield curve the ‘harbinger of doom.” Is this a fact or fear mongering?
What is an inverted yield curve?
In the investment world, there is generally a strong correlation between maturity and yield. Longer-term maturities pay more interest than shorter-term maturities.
For example, 10-year Treasuries pay more interest than 2-year Treasuries. Since this happens most of the time, this condition is called a normal yield curve (blue graph).
But, we live in interesting times, and the yield curve is about to invert (red graph). This means longer-term maturities actually pay less than shorter-term maturities.
Harbinger of doom?
In fact, the short end of the yield curve – 5-year compared to 3-year (5/3) – has already inverted, which means that 3-year maturities actually pay more interest than 5-year maturities.
This has happened five other times since 1970 (red arrows on chart below mark occurrences since 1976). Only in 1973 did it coincide with a market top. The other four times, it took a minimum of two years before the next big correction.
The chart below plots the S&P 500 against a more popular yield curve, which compares the 10-and 2-year yields. The spread is currently only 0.11%, and it’s threatening to fall below zero for the first time since 2007.
The red bars mark all prior times when the 10/2 yield curve inverted. Although it led to bear markets in 2000 and 2005, it was not a consistent ‘harbinger of doom’ in the 20th century.
It’s also worth mentioned that the S&P 500 was down more than 11% before the yield curve inverted.
The facts show that using an inverted yield curve – 10/2 or 5/3 doesn’t matter – as a bear market signal is at best inaccurate, and at worst misleading.
However, and that’s a big however, that doesn’t mean that stocks won’t slip into a bear market. There are other reasons why stocks were ‘supposed to’ tumble.
My down side targets, published on September 3 (when the S&P traded around 2,900) via the Profit Radar Report, ranged from 2,575 – 2,289. That down side target was provided before the yield curve inverted.
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Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s evaluation of the Profit Radar Report). The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013, 17.59% in 2014, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.
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