The nearest thing the global economy has to a doomsday clock ticked a little closer to midnight this week, triggering fear across financial markets.

On Wednesday (US time), the US yield curve — the slope formed by the interest rate paid by Treasury bonds of various maturities — turned upside down for the first time since the summer of 2007, with the US government now paying less to borrow for 10 years than two years.

Although seemingly obscure, the yield curve enjoys a cult following among investors as the leading market forecaster of recessions. Normally, countries should pay less to

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