Explore Topics and Trends impacting today's markets

Despite the fastest rise in interest rates since 1981, and an inverted yield curve where short-term rates are much higher than long-term bond yields, the United States has not (at least yet) experienced the recession forecast by the vast majority of market pundits and economists. Why not?


The relatively few contrarians that did not forecast a recession, including myself, had many reasons for a more optimistic view. However, the most critical reason appears to have been an appreciation of how the U.S. economy has changed over decades and become much less sensitive to interest rates.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. economy was driven by housing and manufacturing. The only choice to finance a home was the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, provided by a savings and loan institution, that deliberately borrowed short-term from savers and lent long-term, taking considerable interest rate and yield curve risk. Further, there was no such thing as financial futures or interest rate swaps to allow for the efficient hedging of interest rate risk.

Fast forward to the modern economy of the 2020s. The U.S. is an economy driven by the service sector, and services are considerably less sensitive to interest rate swings than housing and automobiles. Home mortgages come in every size and flavor, from floating rates to fixed rates. Mortgages are originated by specialists and then packaged and sold to pensions, endowments and investors willing to take the risk. There are no savings and loan institutions. Financial futures, swaps and options are available for efficient hedging and management of interest rate risk. 

In short, the U.S. economy does not dance to interest rates like it once did. Make no mistake, though; interest rate shifts have a profound impact on asset values, from equities to bonds, to housing. It is just that the impact on the real economy is much more subdued than it once was, and a rise in rates does not automatically mean a recession is around the corner.



OpenMarkets is an online magazine and blog focused on global markets and economic trends. It combines feature articles, news briefs and videos with contributions from leaders in business, finance and economics in an interactive forum designed to foster conversation around the issues and ideas shaping our industry.

All examples are hypothetical interpretations of situations and are used for explanation purposes only. The views expressed in OpenMarkets articles reflect solely those of their respective authors and not necessarily those of CME Group or its affiliated institutions. OpenMarkets and the information herein should not be considered investment advice or the results of actual market experience. Neither futures trading nor swaps trading are suitable for all investors, and each involves the risk of loss. Swaps trading should only be undertaken by investors who are Eligible Contract Participants (ECPs) within the meaning of Section 1a(18) of the Commodity Exchange Act. Futures and swaps each are leveraged investments and, because only a percentage of a contract’s value is required to trade, it is possible to lose more than the amount of money deposited for either a futures or swaps position. Therefore, traders should only use funds that they can afford to lose without affecting their lifestyles and only a portion of those funds should be devoted to any one trade because traders cannot expect to profit on every trade. BrokerTec Americas LLC (“BAL”) is a registered broker-dealer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (www.FINRA.org), and is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (www.SIPC.org). BAL does not provide services to private or retail customers.. In the United Kingdom, BrokerTec Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. CME Amsterdam B.V. is regulated in the Netherlands by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) (www.AFM.nl). CME Investment Firm B.V. is also incorporated in the Netherlands and regulated by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), as well as the Central Bank of the Netherlands (DNB).

©2024 CME Group Inc. All rights reserved