Understanding Inflation-Indexed Bond Markets

John Y. Campbell, Robert J. Shiller, Luis M. Viceira

NBER Working Paper No. 15014
Issued in May 2009
NBER Program(s):   AP   IFM   ME

This paper explores the history of inflation-indexed bond markets in the US and the UK. It documents a massive decline in long-term real interest rates from the 1990's until 2008, followed by a sudden spike in these rates during the financial crisis of 2008. Breakeven inflation rates, calculated from inflation- indexed and nominal government bond yields, stabilized until the fall of 2008, when they showed dramatic declines. The paper asks to what extent short-term real interest rates, bond risks, and liquidity explain the trends before 2008 and the unusual developments in the fall of 2008. Low inflation-indexed yields and high short-term volatility of inflation-indexed bond returns do not invalidate the basic case for these bonds, that they provide a safe asset for long-term investors. Governments should expect inflation-indexed bonds to be a relatively cheap form of debt financing going forward, even though they have offered high returns over the past decade.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15014

Published: John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller & Luis M. Viceira, 2009. "Understanding Inflation-Indexed Bond Markets," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(1 (Spring), pages 79-138. citation courtesy of

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