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Abstract: TIPS are notes and bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury with coupons and principal payments indexed to inflation. Using no-arbitrage term structure models, we show that TIPS yields contained liquidity premiums as large as 100 basis points when TIPS were first issued, reflecting the newness of the instrument, and up to 350 basis points during the recent financial crisis, reflecting common funding constraints affecting a variety of financial markets. Applying our models to the U.K. data also reveals liquidity premiums in index-linked gilt yields that spiked to nearly 250 basis points at the height of the crisis. Ignoring TIPS liquidity premiums is shown to significantly distort the information content of TIPS yields and TIPS breakeven inflation rate, two widely-used empirical proxies for real rates and expected inflation.

Keywords: TIPS, liquidity premium, no-arbitrage term structure model, TIPS breakeven inflation, expected inflation, inflation risk premium, survey forecasts

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