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The Case for TIPS: An Examination of the Costs and Benefits
July 2009Volume 15, Number 1
JEL classification: H63, G10, E6
Authors: William C. Dudley, Jennifer Roush, and Michelle Steinberg Ezer
Slightly more than a decade has passed since the introduction of the Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) program, through which the U.S. Treasury Department issues inflation-indexed debt. Several studies have suggested that the program has been a financial disappointment for the Treasury and by extension U.S. taxpayers. Relying on ex post analysis, the studies argue that a more cost-effective strategy remains the issuance of nominal Treasury securities. This article proposes that evaluations of the TIPS program be more comprehensive, and instead focus on the ex ante costs of TIPS issuance compared with nominal Treasury issuance. The authors contend that ex ante analysis is a more effective way to assess the costs of TIPS over the long run. Furthermore, relative cost calculations—whether ex post or ex ante—are just one aspect of a comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits of the TIPS program. TIPS issuance provides other benefits that should be taken into account when evaluating the program, especially when TIPS are only marginally more expensive or about as expensive to issue as nominal Treasury securities.