Those scary words “yield curve inversion” are being bandied about in the headlines by the press these days. Bad news sell papers, of course, but prudent investors should look beyond the headlines. The latter often don’t do justice to the phenomena supposedly being explained.

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What part of the Treasury yield curve is inverting seems to matter. And right now the U.S. Treasury 3- months bill to 10-year note is a negative 5 basis points. But, as I’ve noted here before, it’s the 10 year-30 year bond yield curve that gives the more accurate market signal historically. The front end is getting all the media attention and shouting but the back end is where investors should focus.

The 10-30 yield spread has actually been widening, leading to a steepening yield curve, which is salutary for the economy in general and for cyclicals in particular, as we’ll see below. Today that spread is about 52bps compared to 10 bps about one year ago.

Now the widening inversion of the front-end of the yield curve is a good news/bad news story. As I noted a few weeks ago, the first Federal Reserve rate cut, during a US expansion, sees explosive gains in equities (~18% over 9 months). However, an inverting curve also speaks to the growing global economic stresses from the trade war. ...

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