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The OG Yield Curve Whisperer

NPR

Campbell Harvey is a finance professor at Duke University. Back in the mid-1980s, when he was working on his PhD thesis, scholars were scrutinizing different markets for evidence that they could predict economic growth.

Harvey turned his own attention to the Treasury market — and his thesis would become the first formal explanation of the yield curve's predictive qualities. In his model, a yield curve that inverts for a quarter — that is, long-term interest rates are on average lower than short-term interest rates for a full quarter — predicts that a recession will begin within about a year.

At the time he was writing his thesis, this was true for every recession since the 1960s — and it has been true of every recession since his thesis was published.

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Stacey Vanek Smith is the co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money. She's also a correspondent for Planet Money, where she covers business and economics. In this role, Smith has followed economic stories down the muddy back roads of Oklahoma to buy 100 barrels of oil; she's traveled to Pune, India, to track down the man who pitched the country's dramatic currency devaluation to the prime minister; and she's spoken with a North Korean woman who made a small fortune smuggling artificial sweetener in from China.
Cardiff Garcia is a co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money podcast, along with Stacey Vanek Smith. He joined NPR in November 2017.