A recession as well as rate cuts are both certainties this year, according to an article in Bloomberg that cites the metric that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell pointed to a year ago, when he advised looking at the yield curve—and whether or not it was inverted—as an indication of whether rates will be cut and if the economy is in a slowdown. The predicted 3-month T-bill rate in 18 months’ time fell to 134 basis points below its current rate—lower than the previous record in January 2001, roughly 2 months before the U.S. economy plunged into a recession.
But markets seem certain that the Fed will begin to cut rates by the summer, with Treasuries rallying and traders betting on rate cuts. That’s in contrast to the Fed’s own statements that it will raise rates at least one more time, and Powell himself has said that reduced rates won’t happen this year. But strategists believe that the Fed will be forced to cut rates faster than they’ve indicated in order to avoid a recession later in the year, with TD Securities strategists writing in a recent note, “As we continue to expect the economy to slide into a recession in 4Q, we maintain our call that rate cuts will commence at the December meeting,” the article reports.
Meanwhile, the yield on the 2-year Treasury note was at 3.96%, up 2 basis points but still outpaced by the 10-year note, making the yield curve’s inversion even steeper. The yield curve inversion is seen by many as a solid recession indicator, with that particular section of the curve moving just above zero right before the economy contracts, the article contends. As far as bets on whether or not the Fed will raise rates again, swaps traders are placing a 50% chance that rate hikes are over following the 4.75 percentage points rate hike from earlier this month.