The enemy of bonds is price inflation, because assets held in bonds won't keep up with inflation. Bonds return your principle when they mature; they don't grow. If price inflation as reported ever goes up then investors should expect interest rates to also go up, which would result in a price drop in bonds (until maturity) in your portfolio and your interest rate would then be less than newly increased interest rates. Because TIPS' par value increases at the rate of reported inflation, many investors believe that owning TIPS will sidestep the issue of rising rates caused by increasing inflation.
This is a flawed assumption. TIPS pay a fixed interest rate. If rates go up then the price of a given TIPS bond will still adjust to reflect the increase. Like regular bonds, shorter-dated maturities will be less sensitive to higher rates and longer-dated maturities will be more sensitive. TIP has been a great hold as the conservative part of a diversified fixed-income portfolio for its low volatility, general slow drift higher in price and payment of some dividends along the way. But since the fund's inception, interest rates have been a one-way trade lower.
At our firm, most clients own TIP. We would expect over the next year or so to migrate to STPZ, especially if we get more clarity from the Fed as to when quantitative easing might end. At the time of publication, Nusbaum's firm held shares of TIP and STPZ on behalf of clients. Follow @randomroger This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.