Yes A checkmark with a circle around it close
Person with stylus editing a digital chart

Chart of the Week

Weekly chart using economic data to address timely market topics from the Wells Fargo Investment Institute Global Investment Strategy team.

August 16, 2022

Our preferred recession predictor has spoken

This chart shows the 10-year Treasury yield less the one-year Treasury yield from 1962 to August 12, 2022. The chart shows that this relationship has regularly flattened or inverted (one-year yield higher than 10-year yield) in advance of a recession. The relationship historically then turns positive as the recession begins and steepens as we exit a recession. Recessions are indicated by shaded areas in chart. Currently the relationship remains inverted, signaling a potential recession ahead.Sources: Bloomberg, Wells Fargo Investment Institute, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis FRED database, August 12, 2022. 100 basis points equal 1%. Shaded area represents timeframe of a U.S. economic recession. Yields represent past performance and fluctuate with market conditions. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This chart was excerpted from Fixed Income In Depth: “The predictive power of yield curve inversion” (April 20, 2022)

Yield curve — 10-year U.S. Treasury yield minus 1-year U.S. Treasury yield

The yield curve is essentially the difference between shorter- and longer-term interest rates. As the chart shows, the yield curve has inverted (short-term interest rates moving above longer-term rates) before each of the past eight recessions. We believe yield curve inversion can be an important forecasting tool.

If investors want to select just one yield curve tenor to watch, we favor the gap between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 1-year Treasury yield. Based on our research, when this spread turns negative for at least four weeks or the curve inverts by more than 25 basis points, we view this a strong indication that a recession is likely within the next 12 months (all other factors remaining the same).

What it may mean for investors

Our favored yield curve inverted the week of July 11, more than four weeks ago; as of August 12, it has inverted by more than 40 basis points. We believe this inversion is a strong indicator that a recession is likely within the next 12 months. We favor exposure in U.S. Short Term and Intermediate Term Taxable Fixed Income, as well as municipal bonds. We believe these sectors are positioned to offer investors sustainable yield potential, which we view as a key driver of fixed-income performance.

Risk Considerations

Each asset class has its own risk and return characteristics. The level of risk associated with a particular investment or asset class generally correlates with the level of return the investment or asset class might achieve. Bonds are subject to market, interest rate, price, credit/default, liquidity, inflation and other risks. Prices tend to be inversely affected by changes in interest rates. High yield (junk) bonds have lower credit ratings and are subject to greater risk of default and greater principal risk. Municipal bonds offer interest payments exempt from federal taxes, and potentially state and local income taxes. Municipal bonds are subject to credit risk and potentially the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Quality varies widely depending on the specific issuer. Municipal securities are also subject to legislative and regulatory risk which is the risk that a change in the tax code could affect the value of taxable or tax-exempt interest income.

General Disclosures

Global Investment Strategy (GIS) is a division of Wells Fargo Investment Institute, Inc. (WFII). WFII is a registered investment adviser and wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

The information in this report was prepared by Global Investment Strategy. Opinions represent GIS’ opinion as of the date of this report and are for general information purposes only and are not intended to predict or guarantee the future performance of any individual security, market sector or the markets generally. GIS does not undertake to advise you of any change in its opinions or the information contained in this report. Wells Fargo & Company affiliates may issue reports or have opinions that are inconsistent with, and reach different conclusions from, this report.

The information contained herein constitutes general information and is not directed to, designed for, or individually tailored to, any particular investor or potential investor. This report is not intended to be a client-specific suitability or best interest analysis or recommendation, an offer to participate in any investment, or a recommendation to buy, hold or sell securities. Do not use this report as the sole basis for investment decisions. Do not select an asset class or investment product based on performance alone. Consider all relevant information, including your existing portfolio, investment objectives, risk tolerance, liquidity needs and investment time horizon. The material contained herein has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be reliable but we make no guarantee to its accuracy or completeness.

Wells Fargo Advisors is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, but is not licensed or registered with any financial services regulatory authority outside of the U.S. Non-U.S. residents who maintain U.S.-based financial services account(s) with Wells Fargo Advisors may not be afforded certain protections conferred by legislation and regulations in their country of residence in respect of any investments, investment transactions or communications made with Wells Fargo Advisors.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company