More Indicators Signal The Economy Is Heading In The Wrong Direction
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The monthly yield curve between three-month U.S. Treasury bills and 10-year Treasury notes inverted for the first time this economic cycle, Cushman & Wakefield found in a new report. The yield curve had inverted for a day at a time during March and April, but now it is projected to continue at least through June; C&W researchers noted that the longer an inversion lasts, the more likely a recession is to follow.
The past seven recessions came between five and 18 months after a monthly yield curve inversion, with the last "false alarm" inversion occurring in 1965. C&W stressed that inversions do not cause recessions; they are reflective of market conditions and are useful as indicators. But it is far from the only factor, and others like employment remain strong.
"There is no recession today, nor is one likely to arrive any time soon," the report read. "GDP growth is expected to end the year at 2% to 2.5%, and we anticipate commercial real estate market performance will remain strong."
The yield curve is not alone in flashing warning signs — the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Survey of Consumer Expectations found in early June that consumers expect to see slowing upward pressure on price, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Fed considers the general population's sentiments to have material effects on current inflation, according to the WSJ.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has targeted 2% inflation for the past couple of years, letting that target guide its rate cuts or hikes, and in March it found prices had increased overall by an average of 1.5%, the WSJ reports. Though the Fed reportedly sees the shortfall as temporary, some expect it to cut rates in an attempt to goose inflation during its upcoming June meeting.
Investment banking giant Morgan Stanley shares the Fed's relatively grim outlook. Morgan Stanley's overall Business Conditions Outlook plummeted in June compared to the month before, as the WSJ's Michael Derby reported on Twitter:
Morgan Stanley says business conditions "collapsed" in June to early Great Recession levels, and said it wasn't because of trade issues. Check out the chart: It's super ugly, especially for factories. pic.twitter.com/DlNtjFY2bo— Michael S. Derby (@michaelsderby) June 13, 2019
Though Morgan Stanley didn't connect its outlook to the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, it looms large over the economy, perhaps especially reflecting in consumer and investor sentiment. Few hold out hope for a quick resolution, and some expect a prolonged stalemate to have dire consequences on construction and the economy at large.