Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are government bonds designed to adjust for inflation, thereby safeguarding investors against the detrimental effects of depreciation in value. The principal value of TIPS increases concomitantly with inflation.

Overview of TIPS

TIPS are typically issued with standard maturities of 5, 10, and 30 years, representing low-risk investments supported by the U.S. government. The primary function of TIPS is to hedge against inflation. As inflation escalates (quantified through the Consumer Price Index – CPI), the face value of the bond proportionally appreciates.

Mechanics of TIPS

TIPS dispense interest semiannually based on a fixed interest rate set at auction. Nonetheless, the actual interest payout may fluctuate owing to alterations in the interest rate applied to the adjusted principal, indexed to the bond’s inflation. Should the adjusted principal surge over time due to inflation, the interest rate will be augmented by the increased principal, thus affording investors higher interest yields amidst rising inflation. Conversely, should deflation occur, investors would receive lower interest yields.

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)

How TIPS React to Inflation and Deflation?

TIPS serve to immunize investors against the risk of inflation eroding the yield value associated with fixed-rate bonds. Inflation risk is a pertinent concern since the interest remitted on most fixed-rate bonds over their lifespan may lag behind inflation. For instance, if prices surge by 3% and an investor’s bond remits a fixed interest rate of 2%, the investor would suffer a tangible loss.

TIPS are engineered to shield investors from the adverse ramifications of escalating prices over the bond’s tenure. The bond’s face value is adjusted upwards in tandem with inflation and downwards with deflation. Upon maturity, bondholders are reimbursed either the original principal sum or the inflation-adjusted principal, whichever is greater.

Example of TIPS in Practice

Suppose an investor possesses TIPS with a face value of $1,000, disbursing annual interest at a coupon rate of 1%. In the absence of inflation, the investor would receive $10 in interest remittances for the year. However, should inflation manifest at 2%, the principal sum of $1,000 would be elevated by 2% to $1,020. Although the interest rate remains at 1%, it is compounded by the adjusted principal of $1,020, yielding an interest payout of $10.20.

Conversely, in the event of deflation, or negative inflation, at 5%, the principal sum would be adjusted downwards to $950. The interest payout for the year would amount to $9.50. Nonetheless, upon maturity, the investor would receive no less than the original invested principal of $1,000.

Advantages and Disadvantages of TIPS


  • Principal augmentation in tandem with inflation ensures that bondholders receive a higher inflation-adjusted principal upon maturity.
  • Investors are guaranteed never to receive less than their initial principal at TIPS maturity.
  • Interest payouts escalate with rising inflation, as they are calculated based on the adjusted face value.


  • Interest rates offered by TIPS typically fall below those of most fixed-rate bonds lacking inflation adjustments.
  • Investors may face higher taxation on TIPS income.
  • In the absence of realized inflation, holding TIPS may result in diminished benefits from initially low-interest rates or reduced benefits in deflationary scenarios.

Real-Life Example of TIPS

On March 29, 2019, a 10-year TIPS was auctioned with an interest rate of 0.875%. Concurrently, a 10-year U.S. Treasury bond was auctioned on March 15, 2019, with an annual interest rate of 2.625%. It is apparent that the 10-year Treasury bond offers superior interest payments, indicating that investors would receive higher bond coupon payments compared to investing in TIPS. However, in the event of inflationary pressures, the principal amount on TIPS would increase, enabling bond coupon payments to rise while fixed-rate bonds remain unchanged throughout their lifespan.