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Atlas Wealth Advisors

At Atlas Wealth Advisors we strive to establish a clear and comprehensive vision of Wealth Management that extends beyond investing to help you make better financial decisions.

The Flat-Out Truth: What is a yield curve, and why are stock investors interested in its shape?

What is a yield curve, and why are stock investors interested in its shape?

A yield curve gives a snapshot of how yields vary across bonds of similar credit quality, but different maturities, at a specific point in time. For example, the US Treasury yield curve indicates the yields of US Treasury bonds across a range of maturities. Bond yields change as markets digest news and events around the world, which also causes yield curves to move and change shape over time.

Exhibit 1 includes snapshots of the US Treasury yield curve on the last trading day of September for the last three years. Rates across the entire curve have generally moved higher since 2016. However, short-term rates moved at a faster pace than long-term rates leading to a “flattening” of the slope of the yield curve.

Historically, yield curves have mostly been upwardly sloping (short-term rates lower than long-term rates), but there have also been several periods when the yield curve has either been flat or inverted. One question often posed by investors is whether inverted yield curves predict a future stock market decline. While the handful of instances of curve inversions in the US may concern investors, the small number of examples makes it difficult to determine a strong connection, and evidence from around the world suggests investors should not extrapolate from the US experience.

Exhibit 1.      The US Yield Curve Has Flattened in 2018


US Treasury yield curve data (monthly) obtained from US Department of the Treasury website. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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