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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What does a 2.95% yield on the 10-year mean?

Back before the world blew up in 2008, if ten-year treasury rates were much below 4%, I would say that you were either in a recession or a financial panic. Below 3%, I would have said that things must be pretty nasty right now. Well, I would say that the confluence of bad news out of Europe, China, and our own markets does indicate that conditions are fairly rough, but I think the more important signal is that there is absolutely not a chance of a major inflation outbreak. Indeed, 2.95% on the ten year indicates that we are either at 0% inflation or even have a mild case of deflation about to set in.

In either case, this is highly unusual and bears watching. My own suspicion is that investors are ridiculously risk averse, but the extent of the rally in bonds now has taken on a different life. It's hard to say for certain what such low yields portend.

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