This New 30-Year TIPS Looks Like A ‘Death Star’ Investment

Summary

  • The term is too long. The risk is too high. The potential reward is too low.
  • An inflation breakeven rate of about 1.72% will make this TIPS appealing for big-money investors, so this auction should get solid demand.
  • But for small-scale investors looking for inflation protection, the Series I Savings Bond is a superior investment.

It’s big and ominous. It’s volatile. It’s actually kind of scary. And it might outlive you. This is CUSIP 912810SM1 — a 30-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Security being created by the U.S. Treasury this week.

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U.S. Inflation Rose 0.1% In January, But Brisk Trend Continues

Summary

  • Year-over-year U.S. inflation hit 2.5% in January, the highest number since October 2018.
  • Gas prices declined, but core inflation held at 2.3%, indicating that inflationary trends are widespread in the economy.
  • Non-seasonally adjusted inflation rose 0.39% in January, balancing off small declines in November and December. This is good news for holders of TIPS and I Bonds.

January’s report demonstrates — again — that U.S. inflation is not dormant and in fact is running at a “moderately brisk” annual pace, well above 2.0%.

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New 10-Year TIPS Gets Real Yield Of 0.036%, Lowest Since 2013

Summary

  • Investors had to pay a big premium for this TIPS, about $100.86 for $99.97 of value, after the January inflation adjustment.
  • The inflation breakeven rate came in at 1.68%, slightly lower than looked likely last week. Still, inflation fears seem to be rising.
  • Real yields could continue falling, but an investment at real yields this low is not attractive.

The U.S. Treasury’s auction Thursday of $14 billion in a new 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Security generated a real yield to maturity of just 0.036%, the lowest yield on an auction of this term since May 2013.

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10-year TIPS auction history

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Real Yields Are Too Low To Make New TIPS Investments Attractive

Summary

  • The Treasury will offer a new 10-year TIPS at auction Thursday. Real yields are currently running at about 0.09%.
  • TIPS have had a great run over the last year, but wasn’t the time to buy a year ago?
  • The current inflation breakeven rate of 1.75% is reasonable, but inflation expectations have been rising, making TIPS more expensive versus nominal Treasurys.

The U.S. Treasury will offer $14 billion in a new 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Security at auction Thursday. This is CUSIP 912828Z37, and the coupon rate and real yield to maturity will be determined by the auction.

I’m not likely to be a buyer, even though 10-year issues are the “sweet spot” of TIPS investing, usually offering the optimal above-inflation yield versus length of term. But right now real yields on TIPS – across all maturities – are too low to make them attractive.

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tips history

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U.S. Inflation Rose 2.3% In 2019, Highest In 8 Years

Summary

  • Gasoline prices, up 7.9% in 2019, and shelter costs, up 3.2%, were major factors in 2019’s moderately high inflation.
  • December inflation, however, fell slightly below consensus estimates. You can expect the Fed to continue its “on hold” rate policy.
  • Investor interest in inflation protection is rising. Best bet for small investors: U.S. Series I Savings Bonds.

While many financial “experts” have been declaring U.S. inflation dead for years, it surged back to life in 2019 – rising 2.3%, the highest number since 2011. While 2.3% isn’t scary-high, it is on the high end of moderate inflation.

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I-Bond Investors: Here’s A Buying Guide For 2020

Summary

  • The I-Bond’s current fixed rate of 0.20% (essentially, its “real yield”) means it remains the most attractive inflation-protected investment.
  • I recommend waiting until April 10 to make an I-Bond investment decision, because we will then know the future variable rate.
  • Most likely, the fixed rate of 0.20% will be the highest we see in 2020, but a lot can change in the next 12 months.

After a year of deep declines in yields for Treasury investments, here’s something to remember: U.S. Series I Savings Bonds remain a relevant investment.

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5-Year TIPS Reopening Gets Real Yield Of Only 0.02%

Summary

  • This was the lowest real yield for a 4- to 5-year TIPS auction since April 2017, when a new TIPS got a real yield of -0.049%.
  • The inflation breakeven rate was 1.69%, a reasonable number that was higher than the originating auction’s 1.50%. Inflation expectations are rising.
  • As the 5-year TIPS real yield dips perilously close to negative, investors seeking safety should look for better alternatives: I Bonds or insured bank CDs.

The U.S. Treasury announced Thursday that its $15 billion reopening auction of a 5-year TIPS, CUSIP 912828YL8, generated a real yield to maturity of 0.020%, the lowest for this auction term since April 2017.

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