Can we know where we are in the economic cycle? And potentially avoid more recession risks?
I say... yes and yes!

Don't believe me? Then go f*ck yourself! jk. Take a look at this automatically updated data from the Federal Reserve, and decide for yourself..

Tap blue line to see value for period. 
Notice that during recessions, the unemployment rate tends to move more quickly upward for a period of 1-2 years, then improves more slowly over the next 3-10 years to near prior levels. The lesson is that job losses during recessions happen faster than job gains during recoveries. 
Recessions tend to happen when unemployment rates are their lowest. Popular and economic opinions rarely predict a recession when everyone has a job, because the economy is "so good." But history has shown otherwise

It's extremely difficult to call the timing of a recession. However, it is much easier to tell if we are early or late in the economic cycle, relative to what has happened historically. How much better does it get, historically, from this position..?
More about the unemployment rate HERE

The yield curve spread measure the difference between long-term interest rates and short-term interest rates. When the yield curve spread is larger, it is easier to make money lending and long term investing by borrowing short-term, and lending/investing long-term. The Federal Reserve decreases short-term rates and increases the yield curve when the economy is in a recession.

The yield curve spread declines as the economy improves, the Fed raises rates, and eventually long-term rates stop rising. This causes the yield curve spread to decline towards zero, and eventually "invert," where long-term rates are lower than short-term rates. Historically, a long-term decline in the yield curve spread, followed by an inverted yield curve, leads to a recession.

Unemployment Rate (red); Yield Curve Spread (blue)

Changes in the yield curve spread have a strong correlation with the unemployment rate. Historically, the yield curve spread and unemployment rate decline in a late-cycle expansion, before reversing upwards during a recession. 

Unemployment Rate (red); Yield Curve Spread + 5% (blue)

Adding 5% to the yield curve spread across all periods allows us to compare the changes in the yield curve spread and unemployment rate at the same levels. Notice how both lines hit lows just before a recession, and peak just after a recession ends. 

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