The Treasury will announce Thursday that it will be auctioning a new 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Security on July 19, 2012.
What can we expect? The coupon rate is likely to be set by auction at 0.125%, the lowest rate possible, and the yield to maturity looks like it will be somewhere around -0.55%, judging from this similar TIPS currently trading in the secondary market:
So that means buyers will be paying up for that coupon rate of 0.125%, and will accept a yield a half percentage point below inflation for 10 years. If the rate comes in around -0.55%, it will be the record-low yield for any 10-year TIPS issue or reissue.
Here is a chart of recent 10-year auctions, and you can see how dramatically the yield to maturity has fallen – it was 1.920% just three years ago and still-positive in November 2011:
It’s hard to get excited about this 10-year issue, with a yield driven down by worldwide economic turmoil, plus anticipation of further Federal Reserve action to stimulate the economy. The Fed has committed to keeping rates very low through the end of 2014, so we aren’t likely to see dramatic rate changes in the near term. Still, a 10-year yield zero above inflation seems more reasonable.
Breakeven point? The 10-year traditional Treasury as of Friday was yielding 1.57% (inching toward the 2012 low of 1.47%). That means a TIPS yielding -0.55% would need to have inflation average 2.12% over 10 years to win out over a traditional Treasury. That is in the lower-end of the breakeven range over the last year:
Given the super low rate on a 10-year Treasury, the breakeven rate is tolerable and I’d say it makes the TIPS preferable to 10-year Treasury. If you are looking to park cash for 10 years with supreme safety and can accept very little or zero real growth in your investment, this TIPS will work.
- I Bonds purchased up the the yearly maximum ($10,000 per person at Treasury Direct) remain the best option. They pay the rate of inflation and can be sold after one year with only a minimal penalty, and after five years with no penalty, plus taxes are deferred.
- A 5-year bank CD can pay around 1.75%, creating a breakeven rate over 5 years of 2.3% compared with a 10-year TIPS paying -0.55%. Plus, it will mature in 5 years, or you can unload it early with a penalty. Because of the recent economic slowdown, inflation is muted (it turned to deflation in May and may be negative again in June). I’d say a bank CD competes pretty favorably.