Jan 29, 2020 - Economy & Business

U.S. Treasury yield curve inverts again

Data: Investing.com; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios
Data: Investing.com; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The U.S. Treasury yield curve between 3 months and 10 years inverted on Monday, as it has before every recession in the past 50 years. Inversion has been a false signal just once in that time.

What it means: When yields on short-dated Treasury notes (typically 3-month bills to 2-year notes) climb above longer-dated ones, it signals short-term borrowing costs are more expensive than longer-term loan costs.

  • As Reuters' Dhara Ranasinghe and Sujata Rao note, "Under these circumstances, companies often find it more expensive to fund their operations, and executives tend to temper or shelve investments. Consumer borrowing costs also rise and consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, slows."
  • "The economy eventually contracts and unemployment rises."

Timing: The yield curve has inverted six to 24 months before every U.S. recession and it typically reverts to normal before the recession comes.

  • It first inverted in March.

Go deeper: The Treasury yield curve has steepened for all the wrong reasons

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