Economics Primers – US “Retail” Treasuries

series I bonds (inflation adjusted)

  • maximum purchase – per calendar year, per social security number – $10,000
  • additional purchase – $10,000 per business entity (so, for instance, if you are an Uber driver you can get $10K in bonds personally and $10K in bonds in a separate account as sole proprietorship
  • current interest (set twice per year) 9.62% (spring 2022)
  • interest rate based on CPI
  • interest added monthly
  • minimum term 1 year
  • penalty – lose 3 months interest if withdrawn before 5 years
  • pays interest for 30 years

series EE bonds

  • maximum purchase – per calendar year, per social security number – $10,000
  • fixed interest rate 0.10% (spring 2022)
  • face value of bond is guaranteed to double after holding bonds for 20 years
    • interest rate works out to be 3.527% per year
  • interest added monthly
  • minimum term 1 year
  • penalty – lose 3 months interest if withdrawn before 5 years
  • pays interest for 30 years

TIPS bonds

  • face value (par value) is the bond’s face value + inflation rate
  • so after a year at 10% inflation, a $1000 bond is worth $1,100
  • this is cumulative, so in year 2, if inflation is 5%, the bond will be worth $1155
  • interest (coupon) is also paid on bond, at the face value
  • if inflation is negative, face value can go down
  • at redemption, if held to maturity, bond is redeemed at full original face value or higher
  • interest rate (coupon is based on auction
  • no maximum purchase amount
  • trick is to buy the bonds at a good price – since they are an auction, a $1000 bond can cost $1090, etc, to purchase

TIPS info

  • auction purchase – in periods of inflation, you will pay a premium per bond
  • if purchased directly there is 0 volatility
  • if held to maturity there is 0 risk
  • small coupon – changes based on principal
  • principal changes based on inflation (up or down)
  • each year inflation adjustment is cumulative
  • risk is when deflationary period forces price of TIPS lower (and there is no upward inflation adjustment)