Reader Joe pointed out that current pricing on the TIPS maturing April 15, 2013, has moved to a positive yield, while almost the entire TIPS ladder is negative. At this point, it is substantially positive:
Tempting, isn’t it? This TIPS has a coupon rate of 0.625% and is selling at a discount, resulting in a yield of 0.739%. That’s attractive, but the TIPS will mature in 4 1/2 months, so it’s definitely a short-term investment.
There’s a thread discussing this issue in the Bogleheads forums, dating back to June but with posts continuing through this week. Experts there agree it is an intriguing investment in theory, but it reality will generate very little income in the short remaining time period, less than 0.2% on the money invested. Still, that is better than a six-month Treasury (0.13%) and even better than a one-year (0.18%).
Why the pricing anomaly? With oil and gas prices declining, we are currently in an inflation downswing, and the ‘fiscal cliff’ raises a specter of deflation. TIPS are inflation protection, and there is little chance of much inflation at all before April 2013. So there is no ‘inflation premium’ on this issue. In fact, a couple months of deflation could nearly wipe out its positive return.
There is little risk in this investment, though, so it could be interesting for someone parking short-term cash, which is going to earn near-zero anyway.