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PIMCO Bet Against 'Lost Decade' of Deflation

Bill Gross’s Pacific Investment Management Co. made an $8.1 billion wager that the U.S. won’t suffer a decade of deflation like the one that crippled Japan starting in the 1990s.

The funds received $70.5 million in up-front premiums under these contracts, known as inflation floors, in return for agreeing to pay investors should prices decline in the 10 years ending in 2020.

Pimco disclosed in a June filing that its funds began writing 10-year inflation floors during March and reported last month that they issued additional contracts in April. According to the Aug. 27 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 25 Pimco funds entered into these inflation floors during this year’s first half, with Gross’s $247.9 billion Pimco Total Return fund accounting for $6.57 billion of the $8.1 billion total.

In Pimco’s case, a cumulative 10 percent decline in the price index over 10 years would require the funds to pay out a total of about $810 million, based on that formula. The funds would pay nothing to the counterparties and keep the premiums if prices in 2020 are equal to or higher than in December 2009 or January 2010, depending on the contracts.

Reference:  Bloomberg, 20100915, “PIMCO Makes $8.1 Billion Bet Against ‘Lost Decade’ of Deflation