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Inflation-indexed bonds: the dog that didn't bark

  • Richard W. Kopcke
  • Ralph C. Kimball

The introduction by the U.S. Treasury of inflation-indexed notes was one of the most widely publicized innovations in the U.S. capital markets in recent years. Since their introduction in January 1997, $57 billion in 5-, 10-, and 30-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) has been issued, and the Treasury has recently announced that TIPS will also be offered as small- denomination savings bonds. Because both the coupon and the principal of TIPS vary with the consumer price index, the Treasury believes these notes will appeal to risk-adverse investors seeking protection from inflation. Proponents of TIPS have argued that their issuance should also reduce the cost of borrowing to the Treasury and permit a clear measure of investors' forecasts of inflation. Despite their promise, it is doubtful whether inflation-indexed bonds have been a great success either in the United States or in other industrialized countries that have issued them. The authors analyze the characteristics of TIPS that might explain their limited acceptance. Their model indicates that TIPS should appeal primarily to risk-investors in high tax brackets who are pessimistic concerning inflation. Despite their unique design, however, TIPS are not unique in offering investors inflation-protected returns.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its journal New England Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (1999)
Issue (Month): Jan ()
Pages: 3-24

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:1999:i:jan:p:3-24
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  1. Fischer, Stanley, 1983. "Indexing and inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 519-541, November.
  2. Baer, Werner & Beckerman, Paul, 1980. "The trouble with index-linking: Reflections on the recent Brazilian Experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 8(9), pages 677-703, September.
  3. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Data," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1758, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Debt," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 155-208 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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