I previously discussed a slate of recessionary indicators with high correlations to recessionary onsets. However, as we head into 2024, many Wall Street economists predict a “soft landing” or “no recession” outcome for the economy. Are these recessionary indicators with near-flawless track records wrong this time? Will it be a soft landing in the economy or something worse?
We must start our recessionary indicator review with the “Godfather” of them all – “Yield Curve Inversions.”
Bonds are essential for their predictive qualities, so analysts pay enormous attention to U.S. government bonds, specifically the difference in their interest rates. As such, there is a high correlation between the yield curve’s slope and where the economy, stock, and bond markets generally head longer term. Such is because everything from volatile oil prices, trade tensions, political uncertainty, the dollar’s strength, credit risk, earnings strength, etc., reflects in the bond market and, ultimately, the yield curve.
Regarding yield curve inversions, the media always assumes this time is different because a recession didn’t occur immediately upon the inversion. There are two problems with this way of thinking.
- The National Bureau Of Economic Research (NBER) is the official recession dating arbiter. They wait for data revisions by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) before announcing a recession’s official start. Therefore, the NBER is always 6-12 months late, dating the recession.
- It is not the inversion of the yield curve that denotes the recession. The inversion is the “warning sign,” whereas the un-inversion marks the start of the recession, which the NBER will recognize later.