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May 17, 2013

Denver Pays Wall Street $216 Million as Swaps Fail: Muni Credit

Wall Street banks collected $215.6 million that Denver’s public schools paid to unwind swaps and sell bonds since the district began borrowing to cut pension costs in 2008. That sum is about two-thirds of annual teaching expenses.

The district paid $146.6 million last month to banks, including RBC Capital Markets LLC, Wells Fargo Securities LLC and Bank of America Corp., to end interest-rate swaps as part of a second attempt to restructure a 2008 borrowing, bond documents show. The April 17 deal sold as the district’s property-tax rate has risen 26 percent in two years to fund education.

“’It’s very sickening,’ Andrew Kalotay, president of Andrew Kalotay Associates Inc., a debt-management adviser in New York, said in a phone interview. ‘It’s costing people money.’

Municipal borrowers from Detroit’s utilities to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have paid billions of dollars to banks to end privately negotiated interest-rate bets sold as hedges. The Federal Reserve’s policy of holding its benchmark borrowing rate near zero since 2008 has turned many of the swaps into wrong-way bets.”

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Read full Bloomberg article here

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