A narrowing gap between short-term and long-term borrowing costs could be signaling heightened risk of a U.S. recession, researchers at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank said in a study published on Monday.
The research relies on an in-depth analysis of the gap between the yield on three-month and 10-year U.S. Treasury securities, a gap that like other measures of short-to-long-term rates has narrowed in recent months.
Several Fed officials have cited this flattening yield curve as a reason to stop raising interest rates, since historically each time it inverts, with short-term rates rising above long-term rates, a recession follows.
The study, published in the San Francisco Fed’s latest Economic Letter, bolsters that view.
“In light of the evidence on its predictive power for recessions, the recent evolution of the yield curve suggests that recession risk might be rising,” wrote San Francisco Fed research advisers Michael Bauer and Thomas Mertens.
Still, they noted, “the flattening yield curve provides no sign of an impending recession” because long-term rates, though falling relative to short-term rates, remain above them.