The recent (bear) flattening of the US yield curve to levels not seen since before the GFC, a move which has only accelerated in recent weeks as the stock market hit all time highs, has prompted some to question the strength of the US economic cycle, and others to ask outright how long before the curve inverts, signaling an imminent recession. Here, as Citi's Jeremy Hale notes, just as "Dr. Copper" can sometimes be viewed as a stock market precursor, so "Professor Curve" (particularly when inverted or aggressively flattening) can be viewed as a signal of that policy is too restrictive relative to economic fundamentals (especially when using term premium suggests the curve should already be inverted). That said, during an expansion it’s generally normal for the curve to flatten, as the economy expands and the output gap closes, as shown in the chart below. This can be attributed to expectation of a higher Fed funds rate, but also a lower term premium, or more ominously, an inability to pass through inflation to the broader economy, leading to tighter financial conditions which ultimately manifest in an economic contraction.
Monitoring the Monetary System and the Flow of Capital for Forecasting the Business, Financial and Currency Cycle - and Investing in the Emerging Economies from the Euro Global Reserve Currency - on lucabindi.com