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The yield curve and predicting recessions

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  • Jonathan H. Wright

Abstract

The slope of the Treasury yield curve has often been cited as a leading economic indicator, with inversion of the curve being thought of as a harbinger of a recession. In this paper, I consider a number of probit models using the yield curve to forecast recessions. Models that use both the level of the federal funds rate and the term spread give better in-sample fit, and better out-of-sample predictive performance, than models with the term spread alone. There is some evidence that controlling for a term premium proxy as well may also help. I discuss the implications of the current shape of the yield curve in the light of these results, and report results of some tests for structural stability and an evaluation of out-of-sample predictive performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan H. Wright, 2006. "The yield curve and predicting recessions," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-07, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2006-07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Hamilton, James D & Kim, Dong Heon, 2002. "A Reexamination of the Predictability of Economic Activity Using the Yield Spread," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 340-360, May.
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    5. John H. Cochrane & Monika Piazzesi, 2005. "Bond Risk Premia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 138-160, March.
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    7. Arturo Estrella & Anthony P. Rodrigues & Sebastian Schich, 2003. "How Stable is the Predictive Power of the Yield Curve? Evidence from Germany and the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 629-644, August.
    8. Andrews, Donald W K, 1993. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 821-856, July.
    9. Arturo Estrella & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1996. "The yield curve as a predictor of U.S. recessions," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 2(Jun).
    10. Raffaella Giacomini & Barbara Rossi, 2006. "How Stable is the Forecasting Performance of the Yield Curve for Output Growth?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 68(s1), pages 783-795, December.
    11. Don H. Kim & Jonathan H. Wright, 2005. "An arbitrage-free three-factor term structure model and the recent behavior of long-term yields and distant-horizon forward rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1991. "Yield Spreads and Interest Rate Movements: A Bird's Eye View," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 495-514.
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    16. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1993. "A Procedure for Predicting Recessions with Leading Indicators: Econometric Issues and Recent Experience," NBER Chapters,in: Business Cycles, Indicators and Forecasting, pages 95-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Keywords

    Economic indicators ; Economic forecasting ; Interest rates;

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