The inverted yield curve has investors feeling down on their luck at the moment. What is the best way to play the turmoil and volatility? The answer may be in two seemingly unlikely places. The first is in energy ETFs, especially oil. Energy stocks have traditionally done very well during inverted yield curves, so an ETF like XLE seems like a good bet right now. Additionally, tech ETFs such as Vanguard’s VGT could be a good play, according to Bloomberg. Tech has often done well during inversions in the past.
FINSUM: Recommending a tech ETF right now is the height of contrarianism. Tech is basically caught in the middle of the trade war, and frankly, seems like a bad buy.
Every investor seems to be panicking about the yield curve right now, and not without reason. An inverted yield curve has accurately predicted each of the last several recessions. And not only is the yield curve inverted, but yields are shockingly low—the 30-year Treasury yield just went sub-2% for the first time ever. However, that is not what you should be worried about, argues a top economist at the Economic Outlook Group. Instead, you should be watching consumers like a hawk, as they will be the deciding factor as to whether the US heads into a recession. “All eyes should therefore be laser focused on what households are thinking and doing in the coming months--- and not on some tampered yield curve”, says Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook group.
FINSUM: The yield curve is less manipulated than it once was, but we are far from a rate environment one could say was comparable to inversions past. We think this analysis is spot on.
Yields are really low, right? No! In fact, they are high. That is how investors may need to start thinking about yields. Everything we thought we knew from the last 50 years might be worthless now. The CIO of Northern Trust explains “I continue to be surprised by my fellow asset management professionals who think that the long-term norm for the 10-year U.S. Treasury should be closer to 4% or even 4.5% … This is just too high when you consider among other facts that there is $15 trillion invested the bond markets globally right now that is carrying a negative interest rate”. He continued “On the day of this discussion the Swiss 10-year is at negative 90 basis points, the German 10-year is trading at negative 56 basis points, and the Japanese 10-year is at minus 20 basis points … So, why would the U.S. 10-year trading at close to 1.5% or 1.75% seem low? It’s in fact unusually high in the global context”.
FINSUM: Maybe super “low” yields are the new normal, and we should think of the US’ yield level as abnormally high right now. It is hard to stomach and has enormous implications, but it may very well be the truth.
The yield curve is sending increasing warnings that a recession is coming. While the three-month and ten-year yield has been inverted for months, a new inversion occurred yesterday, when the ten-year yield moved below the two-year yield. Even more eye-opening was that the 30-year bond yield fell to just 2.06%. That figure shows that investors have abandoned all fear of rising rates and all economic bullishness.
FINSUM: We don’t know whether to be more worried about a big correction in bonds, or that the economy may actually be as bad as bonds are suggesting! Either way things look bad.
The big market ruction of the last few days has sent the yield curve inversion to very worrying levels. The spread between three-month bills and ten-year Treasuries has widened to minus 32 basis points. A yield curve inversion has preceded every recession for the last 50 years. “The US has been an island of prosperity in a sea of weakness, but that looks to be ending as the impact on the consumer side from the new tariffs is likely to be bigger than the previous ones”, said a senior portfolio manager at PGIM fixed income.
FINSUM: The last time the yield curve was this inverted was April 2007. That fact alone is major warning sign.