The Federal Reserve last week said it would buy $300 billion in long-term government bonds and $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities to help resolve the financial crisis. These actions will expand the money supply, which may lead to faster inflation. A weak economy and higher prices is a bad combination.
As we stare down the barrel of this threat, it makes sense to add inflation protection to a diversified portfolio with Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS. There are two exchange traded funds and mutual funds that provide access to TIPS.
The biggest difference between the funds and the actual bonds is that the bonds typically have a lower yield than traditional Treasury issues and the par value increases or decreases by the rate of change in the consumer price index (CPI). The funds typically pay out the CPI adjustments as part of the dividend.
The iShares Barclays TIPS Bond Fund
- Vanguard Inflation Protected Securities Fund (Stock Quote: VIPSX)
- Schwab Inflation Protected Investor Shares (Stock Quote: SWRIX
- Fidelity Inflation Protected Bond Fund (Stock Quote: FINPX
The Vanguard fund is the cheapest of the traditional mutual funds, with a 0.20% fee. It hasn't paid a capital gain in the past few years. TIP and IPE haven't either.