The combination of a sign of a slowdown in jobs and an inverted yield curve proved to be the harbinger of a recession in 1990 and again in 2001. And the two ominous signs have propped up again, The New York Times reports.
While they may have appeared individually, the real indication now is that they have appeared together.
An inverted yield curve is when the yield on Treasury bonds is lower than the Federal Reserve’s rate for federal funds. And this time, it’s a spread of 1.396 percentage points, the largest since January 2001.
The second is the number of people employed. Typically, it climbs every month, but in August, it declined by 125,000.
Should a recession occur, the Federal Reserve might be criticized for being too slow to respond to the inverted yield curve with interest rate cuts.
“With the core inflation rate comfortably close to 2% and the Treasury market begging for ease for over a year, if it turns out to be a recession, it will also be a policy error,” said Robert Barbera, chief economist at research firm ITG.