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The Near-Term Forward Yield Spread as a Leading Indicator : A Less Distorted Mirror


  • Eric Engstrom
  • Steven A. Sharpe


The spread between the yield on a 10-year Treasury bond and the yield on a shorter maturity bond, such as a 2-year Treasury, is commonly used as an indicator for predicting U.S. recessions. We show that such ?long-term spreads? are statistically dominated in recession prediction models by an economically more intuitive alternative, a \"\"near-term forward spread.\"\" This latter spread can be interpreted as a measure of the market's expectations for the near-term trajectory of conventional monetary policy rates. The predictive power of our near-term forward spread indicates that, when market participants expected?and priced in?a monetary policy easing over the next 12-18 months, this indicated that a recession was quite likely in the offing. Yields on bonds beyond 18 months in maturity are shown to have no added value for forecasting either recessions or the growth rate of GDP.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Engstrom & Steven A. Sharpe, 2018. "The Near-Term Forward Yield Spread as a Leading Indicator : A Less Distorted Mirror," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-055, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2018-55
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2018.055

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael D. Bauer & Thomas M. Mertens, 2018. "Economic Forecasts with the Yield Curve," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Peter Johansson & Andrew C. Meldrum, 2018. "Predicting Recession Probabilities Using the Slope of the Yield Curve," FEDS Notes 2018-03-01-3, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    More about this item


    Policy path; Recession forecast; Yield spread; Monetary policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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