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Empirical TIPs


U.S. Treasury Inflation Protection Securities (TIPs) were first issued in January 1997. Through the end of 2002, eleven TIPs have been issued with maturities ranging from a few years through thirty years. One TIP bond has already matured. Returns on TIPs have been positively correlated with returns on nominal bonds and negatively correlated with equity returns over the past five years. TIPs real durations are longer than nominal bonds because their real yields are low. However, their effective nominal durations are much shorter because they are not as sensitive to changes in expected inflation. TIPs volatility has displayed marked variation over time. It was relatively low during 1999- 2000 and considerably higher during 2001-2002. This suggests that real interest rate volatility has increased recently. TIPs can be used to estimate the real yield curve. The real and nominal yield curves can then be combined to estimate the term structure of anticipated inflation. Because of their taxation, TIPs yields may not be entirely independent of inflation. Given plausible assumptions about future expected returns, an investment portfolio diversified across equities and nominal bonds would be improved by the addition of TIPs.

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