No one really knows for sure!
Just like we weren’t certain what caused a hissy fit the last quarter of 2018, no one really knows for sure why everyone became so happy this quarter. Needless to say, we think this is a more normal reaction and possibly a reversion to the mean from the hissy fit.
As mentioned in our Q2 2019 Newsletter, capital markets could have been protesting higher interest rates – or as mentioned in one of our most read posts at Street-cents.com, it could have just been that it was amateur hour and movement during a “Gentleman’s agreement no movement” time was exaggerated. No matter the reason, capital markets have a happier face.
Inverted yield curve
Just as we pushed the Q2 Newsletter off to the presses, the yield curve did officially invert – as a reminder, yield curve inversion is when short term interest rates are higher than long term rates, which occurred in the last five days of the quarter. The reason we, as well as many other in the industry crow about this unique situation, is it has been a precursor to recessions with great accuracy. Before taking shelter and hiding under the covers, this precursor has no accuracy on the depth, and very little accuracy on the timing of a recession. In some instances a recession occurred two years after the inversion.
As mentioned again in our Q2 Newsletter, the definition of a recession is two consecutive negative gross domestic production – GDP prints – yes that could be – .01% and -.01% making for a mini-mi recession, but still a recession. No matter, just as you can’t be partially sick or partially have an accident the inverted yield curve did occur. As such we will be monitoring the situation very carefully and remembering that now, is not the time to be taking extra risk.
Given the yield curve inverted, no steep inflation signals are occurring, and the economy is growing, but not red hot, it is likely we have seen the highest short term rates for a while. Fed officials seem very comfortable at the current level. As more data is recorded, things can change.
We will talk to you again in the summer, have a great day!
John A. Kvale CFA, CFP