Treasury Inflation-Protected Security

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Treasury Inflation-Protected Security (TIPS)

First issued by the U.S. Treasury in 1997, these Treasury bonds attempt to protect investors against fluctuations in inflation by linking the principal amount to the consumer price index. Each year, the principal is adjusted by the inflation rate during the previous year. The index for measuring the inflation rate is the non-seasonally adjusted U.S. City Average All Items Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These bonds are taxable. Indeed, one must pay tax on both the interest and the increase in principal. TIPS are one of two types of inflation-indexed securities sold by the U.S. Treasury; the other type is Series I Savings Bonds.

Treasury Inflation-Protected Security

A U.S. Treasury security that protects the bondholder from inflation. Most Treasury securities, like most fixed dollar obligations, pay a fixed coupon rate periodically and mature at par. While this carries low risk, it exposes investors to the possibility that the inflation rate will outpace the interest rate represented on the coupon. In order to protect against this, a Treasury Inflation-Protected Security automatically increases its principal according to the inflation rate as tracked by the Consumer Price Index. Thus, while the coupon rate does not increase, the dollar amount paid does. Because TIPS are so safe, they offer a very low rate of return. See also: Real Return Bond.
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