Flat Yield Curve Inverted in December

An article published in Bloomberg early last month reported that “a section of the U.S. Treasuries yield curve just inverted for the first time in more than a decade,” with the spread between short-term and long-term instruments dipping to negative 1.4 basis points.

The development, according to the article, “could be the first signal that the market is putting the Federal Reserve on notice that the end of its tightening cycle is approaching.”

The five-year treasury was doing better, the article notes, explaining that “investors anticipate the end of the central bank’s hiking path beyond next year.” According to TD Securities rate strategist Gennadiy Goldberg, “The outright inversion could be reflective of the market pricing in some cuts starting in 2020, which may be helping the 5-year tenor outperform slightly.”

The flattening of the yield curve over the past two years, the article says, “has signaled investors’ concern that rising rates against a backdrop of slowing global growth could harm the U.S. economy,” adding that inversion has been a “reliable indicator of recessions.”

Some analysts, however, warn against giving the inversion too much weight. The article cites comments by John Iborg, a portfolio manager at QS Investors LLC who argued that the inversion might not impact performance across the asset class in the near term.