NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Want to know whether there’s going to be a U.S. recession, a flare-up in the trade war, or a spate of corporate implosions? You could stay glued to the news and social media. Or, if you have better things to do, just stay focused on these three proxy indicators.
First, take soybeans. American farmers have been early victims of the escalating response to President Donald Trump’s import levies. When crops from other countries like Brazil are relatively more valuable, it suggests traders are more worried tariff barriers will persist.
Soybean prices graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2GNhkH1
Then there’s the U.S. yield curve. Different experts pick different comparisons, but in the past when the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds has dipped below the return on two-year government paper, a recession has followed. As 2018 draws to a close, the gap is once again very thin.
U.S. yield curve graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2GNVweI
Third, corporate health. One hint at sentiment comes from indexes that track how many stocks in given markets are in bear territory, meaning they have fallen 20 percent or more in value from their peak prices in the last 12 months. About half are in that zone in developed markets and more in emerging economies. That might mean shares are cheap. Or it might signify negative sentiment and an accelerating slide in 2019.
Stocks in a bear market graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2AqLAC1
- This is a Breakingviews prediction for 2019. To see more of our predictions, click reut.rs/2R6H5pG
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