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Treasury investments are supposed to provide a safe and steady income stream, but most investors today are losing money once surging inflation is factored in.

In fact, treasury investors are losing more money than they have in four decades, Bloomberg reports, adding that if market forecasters are correct "they’re unlikely to come out ahead for years."

Treasury securities, which include Treasury bills, notes, and bonds, are considered "one of the safest investments because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government," according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 

But when you combine rising inflation, which clocked in at 6.8% in November, and the federal government losing 2% of its debt as the U.S. Federal Reserve removes pandemic-era stimulus, you get the worst real returns (those adjusted for inflation) since the early 1980s.

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That reality isn't expected to change anytime soon, Bloomberg notes, citing bond market projections that 10-year Treasury yields will hold below the inflation rate for the next decade. 

Bloomberg says 10-year yields on inflation-linked bonds fell to an all-time low of minus 1.25% last month before rebounding to about minus 1%. That means investors expect 10-year yields, currently trading around 1.44%, to trail inflation by about 1% annually over the next decade. 

Put simply: Investments in this sector will be canceled out by the rising cost of living.

“You many not want to own bonds because they are negative-yielding security,” Francis Scotland, director for global macro research at Brandywine Global, told Bloomberg. “But that phenomenon may exist for a long time because of this fundamental disequilibrium between saving and investment, or spending and saving.”

Bloomberg said its U.S. Treasury index gained 2.3% a year over the past decade, barely beating inflation which has been, until recently, relatively tame.