Checking in on Thursday’s 30-year TIPS auction

Well, it’s actually a reopening of CUSIP 912810RA8, so buyers will be getting a 29-year, 4-month TIPS with a coupon rate of 0.625%. It will be going off at a huge discount, showing how volatile 30-year Treasurys can be.

Right now, it’s looking like the yield will come in at 1.38%, plus inflation. That’s where this TIPS was trading on the secondary market Monday. Today’s rather weak jobs report – read the Reuters report – could give TIPS and Treasurys a boost, pushing the yield lower.

That 1.38% yield means this TIPS will be priced around $81.25 for $100 of value. That’s a fall of 18.7% since the original issue in February.

Does it make this issue attractive? Somewhat. Getting a TIPS with a yield above 1% has been very rare in the last three years. I think I counted 26 of the last 27 TIPS auctions with a yield below 1% – the only exception was when this same TIPS was reopened in June at 1.42%.

But the June (1.42%) to October (1.38%) trend shows that TIPS yields have stalled after the strong move upward beginning in May 2013. So the price buyers pay might actually be higher Thursday than it was in June.

With a 30-year nominal Treasury trading at 3.68%, the inflation breakeven rate for this TIPS stands at 2.3%, not particularly cheap. That means if inflation averages more than 2.3% over the next 30 years, this TIPS will outperform the traditional Treasury.

I do think inflation is likely to be higher than 2.3%, and I’d definitely buy this TIPS over a 30-year Treasury, just to get the inflation protection.

The key issue is: Will rates be rising by mid-2014? I suspect they will be, and so I’m going to be patient. The Federal Reserve can’t continue bond-buying forever, can it? (Ummm …) But the bigger problem is a dysfunctional U.S. government that can’t make even short-term budget decisions, let alone addressing giant spending issues arising in the next 25 years.

Inflation is a definite threat for the future.


About Tipswatch

Author of blog, David Enna is a long-time journalist based in Charlotte, N.C. A past winner of two Society of American Business Editors and Writers awards, he has written on real estate and home finance, and was a founding editor of The Charlotte Observer's website.
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