Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin downplayed fears over the recent appearance of a classic recession signal in bond markets, saying Monday that the development is attributable to Federal Reserve policy rather than an impending downturn.

Markets for Treasury securities have recently seen a "yield curve inversion," an unusual situation in which interest rates on short-term securities are higher than those on long-term securities. Such inversions often occur before trouble: The last yield curve inversion was in 2007, as the real estate market took a pounding in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession.

But Mnuchin said that, this time, the yield curve inversion is a harmless sign that the Fed will cut its interest rate target, as President Trump has publicly called for the central bank to do.

“I don’t see any signs of that," said Mnuchin of a recession in an interview with Fox Business Network. “I think the only thing that people look at is the yield curve. I think the yield curve indicates that the Fed will lower rates and nothing more than that.”

Mnuchin declined to discuss other topics related to the Fed, such as Trump’s attacks on the central bank, or Trump's two picks for the Fed’s board of governors, Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, who face major obstacles to confirmation.

[Related: Larry Kudlow: Trump poses no threat to Fed independence]

But Mnuchin defended the central bank’s independence as important, including to maintain confidence in the dollar as a global reserve currency.

“I do think that the Fed independence is something that the world looks to and the dollar being a reserve currency is very important,” Mnuchin said.

Demand for U.S. dollars gives American citizens and companies more purchasing power relative to residents of most other countries, though it can also be seen as an impediment to exports, since it makes them more expensive to buy in another currency.

The Treasury secretary added that he expects a slowdown of the Chinese and European economies to affect the U.S.’ own economic growth, but that the U.S. looked to fare reasonably well in the near future compared to much of the rest of the world.

“I think there will be some modest impact, because the slowdown in Europe and the slowdown in China will impact us,” Mnuchin said. But he added that, at the ongoing International Monetary Fund/World Bank spring meetings, “the story was the U.S. growth is still strong and the rest of the world is slowing.”