Yield Curve Inversion Predicts a 2024 Recession


As investors strive to navigate the complexities of financial markets, understanding key indicators becomes paramount. The yield curve, a graphical representation of the relationship between short-term and long-term interest rates, has long been regarded as a reliable predictor of economic downturns. This article explores the historical significance of yield curve steepening, its correlation with recessions, the role of the labor market, and how the stock market behaves before and during economic downturns.

Yield Curve Steepening as a Leading Indicator for Recessions

For decades, the yield curve has provided valuable insights into the future direction of the economy. Historical analysis reveals that when the yield curve inverts, indicating short-term rates surpassing long-term rates, a recession tends to occur approximately 12 months later, with a good track record of accuracy since 1969. A yield curve steepening from inverted levels brings the recession even closer, with an average lag of 5 months.

Yield curve inversion

Yield Curve Inversions: A Glimpse into History

The inversion of the yield curve in 2022/2023 reached a depth comparable to the notorious 1929 scenario. In the past, an inverted yield curve served as a harbinger of poor economic conditions and an impending recession. Surprisingly, during the 1929 episode, the stock market soared, unemployment remained low, and optimism prevailed. However, in May 1929 the yield curve steepened, which triggered a stock market crash that marked the Great Depression – one of the most severe downturns in history.

US Treasury yield and US Recessions

Though yield curve steepening often precedes recessions, there can be a time gap between the two. Historical instances, such as 1970 and 1973, witnessed recessions beginning while the yield curve was still inverted, eliminating any lag between steepening and the recession. Conversely, before the 2008 financial crisis, the yield curve started steepening in November 2006, but the recession commenced 13 months later in December 2007.

US Treasury yield curve

Role of the Labor Market in Yield Curve Dynamics and Recessions

The labor market plays a vital role in the relationship between the yield curve and recessions. Close observation reveals a strong correlation between the yield curve and initial claims for unemployment. An inverted yield curve typically signals an approaching full employment economy, while steepening indicates a weakening labor market. This interplay between yield curve dynamics and labor market conditions proves crucial in predicting economic downturns.

Yield curve jobless

In 2023, the yield curve has begun to steepen. However, initial claims are still quite low, not confirming the yield curve’s signal yet.

US Treasury Yield curve

Analyzing the 24-month period following yield curve inversions since the 1970s reveals a consistent pattern of initial claims rising. The timing varies, however, with some instances showing an immediate increase and others taking time to pick up. The yield curve inverted in August 2022. It’s been about 15 months since then, indicating that initial claims should rise within the next 9 months.

Growth in initial jobless

Inversions and Economic Indicators

Examining economic indicators alongside a shifted yield curve (12 months forward) shows a remarkable accuracy in predicting economic trends. Yield curve inversions anticipate future economic downturns by about 12 months like 2001. However, in some cases the time lag can reach up to 24 months, like in 1990 and 2007.

10 year treasury yield

Stock Market Behavior

The stock market often acts independently, not waiting for a recession to price it in. Historical data indicates that stocks tend to peak before recessions in most cases, including the 1970s, 2000, and 2007. However, there are exceptions, such as the 1990 recession when the market peaked at the start of the recession. Whereas, in 1979, the market did not fall despite the recession. The stock market’s response to yield curve predictions varies, underscoring the complexity of market behavior during economic downturns.

S&P 500 since 1965

Today, the stock market has been moving higher since the beginning of 2023. In the best case scenario, the latest that the recession could materialize based on the yield curves’ historical track record would be in 9 months. Until that period, the stock market could continue moving higher, like it did in 1990.

S&P 500 since 1965

However, what tends to happen during recessions is that the stock market usually retraces any gains from the year leading up to the recession. That’s true for every single recession since the 1970s, except in 1979.

S&P 500 Since 1965


Understanding the dynamics of the yield curve and its relationship with recessions is crucial for investors seeking to navigate financial markets successfully. While yield curve steepening provides valuable insights into future economic conditions, the timing of recessions and stock market behavior can vary. The labor market’s role in the equation further emphasizes the interdependence of economic indicators. Click here to get free trial for 7 days! Subscribe to our YouTube channel and Follow us on Twitter for more updates!

Read more: Big Rise in Interest Rates Has Massive Implications for the Economy