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  • There's a joke on Wall Street that treasury inflation protective securities should actually

  • stand for totally illiquid pieces of, well, family show.

  • You'll have to ask a trader.

  • But regardless, the TIPS market is watched closely as an important signal of expectations, of future inflation.

  • Because of the price, in which the securities trade relative to upper treasuries.

  • It's why so many investors and economist, including at the Federal reserve,

  • which is meeting to decide monetary policy today,

  • are investigating the same puzzle right now.

  • Why have expectations for US inflation in the next decade slipped so much?

  • On its face, this looks a deeply disappointing signal for policy makers.

  • A suggestion that there are attempts to reflate the economy and to meet their target of stable annual inflation at around 2%

  • have gone way off track.

  • Even after a rebound in recent days, the markets implying that inflation in the years from 2021 to 2026 will be down at 1.6%.

  • Now that suggests that financial markets don't really believe in the Fed's long-term inflation target.

  • And if that's true, that could have real and immediate consequences.

  • What people expect inflation to be closely affects what inflation actually turns out to be because it gets baked into the price rise.

  • Is that the business push through or the wage increases that workers push for?

  • The Fed thinks that survey-based measures of inflation expectations may be more reliable than anything thrown out by the market.

  • As policy makers discuss when they last met in January, those surveys show expectations are still anchored higher.

  • Over late the TIPS markets implied inflation measure with the oil price.

  • And things become clearer.

  • Since oil began falling in 2014, there's been a tight correlation between inflation expectations and the crude price.

  • And while short-term inflation is obviously affected by oil, consumer prices in the next decade shouldn't be.

  • Oil cannot keep falling forever.

  • So the more likely solutions of the puzzle is the more sanguine one.

  • The relatively illiquid TIPS market has been swept up in the speculative drama surrounding the oil price,

  • and it no longer tells you very much about the long-term inflation expectations.

  • Stephen Foley for the Financial Times.

There's a joke on Wall Street that treasury inflation protective securities should actually

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