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Bloomberg.com: Citigroup Leads Wall Street Drive to Hurt Taxpayers (May 9 2008)

Taxpayers from Massachusetts to California are paying Wall Street banks to end derivative contracts gone bad as they exit the collapsing auction-rate bond market, with penalties in some cases topping $10 million and compounding the pain of rising borrowing costs.

Sacramento County, California, paid Morgan Stanley $5 million to cancel an interest-rate swap agreement when it refinanced $79.5 million in auction-rate securities last month. The fee added to the cost of the bonds after the rate on the securities more than doubled to 9.8 percent in March as dealers stopped supporting the market.


States, cities, hospitals and colleges face penalties exceeding $10 million to terminate swaps that failed to protect them against higher rates, according to interviews with borrowers and advisers. That's on top of the $1 billion in fees they're paying to dealers to help sell bonds that would replace auction- rate securities they sold, based on industry averages.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 9th, 2008 at 09:11:01 AM EST

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