We beg to differ. The outlook for the global economy, and in turn financial markets, may not be nearly as bleak as the yield curve suggests.
We estimate the probability of a recession in the U.S. at less than 10% in the next 12 months, less than 20% in two years and just over 30% in three years. Contrary to commonly used models such as that of the New York Fed, our model does not include market data but focuses on structural macro data such as consumption and income balances and central bank accommodation.
The yield curve is clearly an important indicator to look at, though it does not pinpoint the precise timing of a recession. The yield curve inversion between July 2000 and January 2001, for example, was followed by a U.S. recession between March and November 2001. The yield curve inverted again in July 2006 to May 2007 ahead of the global financial crisis in the autumn of 2008.
As the circumstances of each recession are different, it is prudent to look at the bigger picture. First, certain conditions have changed over the past decade: Following the 2008 financial crisis, major central banks introduced significant quantitative easing measures that have moved bond markets and yields to levels where an inversion of the yield curve is more likely now than in previous economic cycles. This diminishes the role of yield curve inversions as a recession bellwether.
Furthermore, other structural macroeconomic factors can potentially signal a recession. It is therefore important to look at labor markets, corporate and consumer debt, the monetary policy of major central banks, and the state of the Chinese economy, to name just a few. None of these signals currently point to an impending downturn.