Thursday, August 07, 2014

I'm From Wall Street and I've Got a Deal for You

ProPublica studies the tobacco bonds.  Last century (1998) the state attorneys general and the tobacco companies reached a settlement, which gave states money over a number of years with the amount dependent on how much people smoked: the more they smoked, the more money since the logic was to cover the costs/externalities of smoking.

Wall Street came along and persuaded states to securitize the settlement, to sell bonds based on the stream of anticipated income from the tobacco settlement.  States would get more cash upfront (to be used as the politicians desired).  That's not a new idea but surprise, surprise, the deal is turning out to be better for Wall Street firms than for the states.

There were a lot of fancy deals made during the 90's and 00's; I hope someday there's an overview study which shows how many turned out okay and how many were snake oil.  The KISS rule also applies to finance.

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