We all know what the book says about a yield curve inversion, that a recession will follow 1 - 2 years after and that between the inversion will reverse back, bonds will be sold while stocks enjoy a brief rally before finally rolling over into a recessionary bear market, after all it's happened 7 times before so must be again right. Well not necessarily, previously the inversions have been deep and lasted several months, that hasn't happened yet. Also fore warned is fore armed and we already know the problem is this time, it's Trump trying to get China to play by the rules, oh and debt.
The thing is that the bond market has changed radically in the last decade and longer, look at the long term chart of the 10 year bond yield below, falling steadily since the 1980's, with the 10 year being so low a 2/10 year yield inversion is much more likely under far less economic provocation.
But what about the debt then, well it's clear Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is becoming a 'thing' whether people call it or not. The Japanese have been doing something like it for years except going the long way round and printing money to buy bonds instead of just printing money.
MMT says that so long as you don't borrow from outside and you keep inflation under control you can print the amount of money you need (see the MMT thread), Japan have been doing it for decades, the UK, US and EU started latter but doing it they are, the problem for the EU is that they have also been borrowing widely from outside.
Central bank bond buying has distorted the bond market making yield inversions more likely, but less likely of an automatic recession to follow. Central banks will continue to print money anyway, the key is to control inflation, owing yourself money can be dealt with, it's owing other people money that's the problem.
How will it all actually pan out, who knows, that's not a trader's concern, an investor might take a different view but they still won't know til it happens whatever 'it' is.
Chart 1: Yield dipping below the red line is inversion, the shaded columns are the recession periods that followed.
Chart 2: The steady decline of the 10 year bond yield since the 1980's.
Chart 3: The 2 year bond yield retreating from recent highs.
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